551 new homes announced for Devon and Cornwall
A major housebuilder has identified the Westcountry as a key target after announcing plans for 551 new homes which is expected to help create hundreds of jobs.
The construction by Barratt Group, has been welcomed by housing experts as a step toward easing the region's housing crisis.
Latest figures from the National Housing Federation (NHF) show less than 60% of the new homes required are being built across the greater South West.
David Wilson Homes, part of Barratt Developments, said it has responded to rising demand across Devon and Cornwall, revealing seven new projects in Exeter, Plymouth, Newton Abbot and Ermington.
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Launching the clutch of new development at one of the sites, Hillside Gardens in Pinhoe, Exeter, Barratt Group chief executive Mark Clare yesterday said improvements in the mortgage market had loosened the purse strings.
"The good news for home buyers is that the mortgage market is now improving and we are expanding our business," he added.
"Customers have been locked out of the market by the need for a huge deposit and it's great news that this is finally changing – customer interest is the strongest I've seen for five years.
"There is a chronic shortage of new-build homes, particularly detached family homes in Exeter."
Barratt are not alone in developing new programmes, according to Tim Jones, chairman of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.
"Many of the major companies are reporting confidence in the market," he added. "It is very encouraging and a marvellous way to kick-start the economy and create jobs."
The NHF, which annually lays bare the shocking state of the housing market in its Home Truths report, said just 16,100 new homes were built in the year to 2012 across the South West.
This was against the formation of more than 27,000 new households in the same time, leaving a shortfall the size of a small town each year.
Peter Jones, spokesman for the NHF in the region, said in Exeter, where 413 of the announced new properties would be built, the average home costs eleven times the average salary. But the additional construction of 132 homes by Devon and Cornwall Housing Group would help ease the severe lack of affordable homes, he added.