Newly-published government statistics show there were 45,300 housing starts and 37,800 completions in England during the third quarter.

The figures were down 1% and 5% respectively on a year ago, with most of the fall in completions occurring in London and the north-west.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said trends in housing starts and completions have levelled off during the last three quarters after a steady growth since 2002/03.

Provisional UK figures for the financial year 2004/05 show 225,960 starts, up 7% on the previous 12 months, and 205,960 completions – 8% growth.

Starts in the north and Midlands have levelled off so far this year, while completions increased in the east and west Midlands and fell in the north-west and Yorkshire.

London, the south-east, east and south-west saw a levelling or fall in starts following increases since 2002/03. The south-east has continued an upward trend in completions, while London has seen a reduction from the relatively high levels in 2004/05.