Housebuilder Barratt Developments North East has announced it is to create 600 new jobs this year as it forges ahead with plans to construct hundreds of new homes in the region.
The new jobs represents a 40% increase in the workforce and the company said its expansion reflects both the upswing in the regional economy and the health of the local housing market.
Last year the North East Division, which covers areas across Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham and Middlesbrough, employed 1,600 people and the division built 457 properties, 89% of which were built on brownfield land.
Over the following 12 months the housebuilder’s recruitment drive will bring the workforce up to 2,200 people in the North East, to work on the construction of 628 new houses in the region.
The new roles will be across all disciplines from bricklayers, electricians and landscapers through to head office support positions.
Mike Roberts, managing director of Barratt Developments North East, said: “Barratt Developments was born in the North East so it is great to be able to give back to the local economy with this increase in jobs and investment.
“We think that demand for housing will continue to grow, particularly as the regional economy begins to get back to full strength, and we will continue to invest in local people to help us provide to high quality homes in the area.”
The jobs news marks the second major recruitment drive by a housebuilder in a month, following on from last month’s announcement by Alnwick-based Cussins that it was creating an estimated 500 jobs on the back of a £5m investment from the Business Growth Fund, to support the acquisition of land to build 300 new houses a year over the next four years.
Commentators said the announcements go some way to address the need for new housing stock, following several years in which the UK has not been building enough to meet demand for both private and affordable markets.
Catriona Lingwood, chief executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East, said: “What great news to start the New Year off with. Not only will this mean our region starts to get the homes it so desperately needs, it also means we can get the generation whom housebuilding has forgotten back into our industry.”
Completion rates in the UK have slipped significantly since the economic crisis and housing completions fell to the lowest peacetime levels since the 1920s.
As a result, the UK has one of the oldest housing stocks in Europe, with around 80% built pre-1980s.
A resurgence of the housing market and confidence in firms means more are now turning land banks into much-needed developments, but the Federation of Master Builders wants to see more companies taking action.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “News that house builder Barratt Developments North East is to create 600 new jobs is further evidence that the housing market is finally on the road to recovery after a long period of stagnation.
“Last year only half the number of homes were built to keep pace with demand which is why there is a pressing need to rapidly increase the number of new homes being built in this country. One of the great strengths of house building is that it creates hundreds of new local jobs which in turn helps accelerate regional growth.
“Unfortunately smaller local house builders, which were particularly hard hit by the downturn, have not been in a position to increase their output as quickly as the larger developers. “This is a serious concern because if the UK is to build the number of new homes required we will need to see a significant increase in the number of new homes being built by small local firms on small scale sites.”