Nearly 150 new homes were built in Bracknell Forest at the start of the year, figures reveal, although activity remained below pre-pandemic levels.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows work was completed on 140 homes in the area between January and March.

However that was 30 fewer than the 170 finished during the same period the previous year.

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The figures also show work began on a further 80 homes in the three months to March.

It was a different picture across England, where 49,470 homes were completed in the first quarter of the year – the highest number for any quarter in more than 20 years and a 4 per cent increase compared to the last three months of 2020.

During the same period, work began on 46,010 homes – a 7 per cent increase on the previous quarter.

The Home Builders Federation says demand for new build homes is extremely strong nationally, and wants to see the Government continuing to invest in the industry.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman, said: "The industry is looking to deliver further increases in supply that have seen output double in recent years.

"As well as addressing the social need for more housing, increasing supply creates jobs, generates investment in local economies and delivers improvements to infrastructure and amenities that benefits both new and existing residents.

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"The Government needs to continue to evolve the policy agenda such that the industry can continue to invest in the land and people needed to build the homes the country needs."

However, the organisation warned that quarterly figures at local authority level can be volatile, as they can potentially exclude data for some sites.

The MHCLG figures show that in the year to March, 510 new homes were completed in Bracknell Forest – 450 fewer than in 2019-20.

The Government has committed to investing nearly £20 billion into new housing as part of its Spending Review, including more than £12 billion for affordable housing, as part of its levelling-up agenda.

After initially halting all construction work at the start of the pandemic, the Government later introduced measures to allow builders to seek more flexible construction site working hours from their local councils.

Certain planning permissions that would otherwise lapse were also extended, in order to support the sector.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: "It is encouraging to see a continued rise in the number of new homes being built.

"The house building sector has shown extraordinary resilience and the Government has continued to demonstrate its support for the industry throughout the pandemic.

"By enabling construction sites to remain open and operate safely, builders have been able deliver the homes this country needs as we build back better from the pandemic."