London home improvements decline

Home improvement figures across London decreased through 2017, dropping below 100,000 planning applications submitted for the first time in three years.

The ‘Home Improvers of Great Britain 2018’ report, compiled by construction industry analysts Barbour ABI, shows that for every 100 private homes, London had on average 3.7 home improvement applications in 2017, putting the capital way above the national average of 2.1.

Kensington and Chelsea saw a steady decline since 2015, and the once most popular district in Great Britain for home improvement has now been leapfrogged by Westminster.

Based on the number of planning applications for home improvement and the number of home sales, despite a slide in home improvement activity, Londoners remain far more likely than anywhere else in Britain – around twice the national average – to improve than move.

With sales of homes falling in 2017 the number of planning applications for home improvement in London rose above the number of sales.

Looking at the type of improvements made in applications, the capital accounted for almost 80% of all applications for basement improvements over the past five years, with Kensington and Chelsea accounting on its own for 23%. And more than a third of applications for loft improvements were in London over the period.

The Office for National Statistics Family Spending survey suggests that households in London on average spent across 2016 and 2017 above £1,900 a year altering and improving their homes. That totals to about £6.7 billion spent in the region.

Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: “The fall in London home improvement applications was more evident in the central districts, where average house prices are higher, than in outer boroughs in 2017. Nevertheless, high land values in London will continue to support a strong home improvement market, even if the level is declining. Certainly, given the constraints on available land, the market for more expensive home improvements is dominated by London.”