House building fell to its lowest level in four years at the end of last year, as the uncertain outlook for house prices compounded worries that recent rapid development had oversupplied the market in some areas. Financial Times, The Times

The number of new building starts in England fell to 37,900 in the last quarter of 2007, 10% below the level in the same quarter the previous year, and the lowest since the end of 2003, official statistics showed yesterday.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said that the estimate of starts in 2007 now stood at 166,900, 6% below the previous year, continuing a downward trend that began in the middle of 2006.

Increased caution among developers would complicate the government’s task of increasing housing supply, putting its target of an extra 3m homes by 2020 in even more doubt, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors warned last month.