Hopes that a house-building boom could ease the chronic Westcountry housing crisis have been dealt a surprise blow after the number of new homes built in the region dropped over the summer.
The registration of new builds in the six-county South West dropped 12% from June to August, bucking a national trend which saw numbers rise by a quarter.
The unexpected fall – the only negative result across England and Scotland – looks set to pile more misery on the 186,000 people in the queue for homes in the region, the highest figure in the country which was boosted by increases of 42% in Devon and 138% in Cornwall last year.
It comes after a previous round of figures from the National House-Building Council (NHBC) in June which showed a 50% increase during the second quarter of 2013 compared to 2012.
Sir John Banham, chairman of the Future Homes Commission, who lives in West Cornwall, is campaigning for more affordable housing, said the news was "disappointing" and called on the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) to do more.
Sir John said the answer was not just "more new builds of market housing" and claimed fears of a "London property bubble" should not undermine efforts in the South West.
"The LEP should use its £500 million of European Development Funding to kick start a series of local developments for rent and shared ownership," he added.
Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council's cabinet spokesman for planning, said the situation for many of the almost 29,000 families on the Cornwall Homechoice register was now "dire".
She claimed that half of the 42,000 homes planned for the Duchy over the next two decades already have planning permission but remain un-built.
"We need be more creative as a council – building more council homes is one of our aims but how we do it something I am working on," she added.
In total 90,730 new homes were registered by builders in the first eight months of 2013, compared to 72,740 last year over this period, according to the latest set of statistics from the NHBC, which account for 80% of all registrations.
But even this improved total fails to come anywhere near the 140,984 registered for the same period in 2007.
And it falls well short of the 200,000 figure pledged by Ed Miliband as a target for a Labour Government.
There was a marginal increase in August registrations compared to the same month last year – 9,769 in 2013 compared to 9,553 in 2012.
But the rolling quarter for June-August 2013 saw a 15% increase from the same three months last year – 33,593 in 2013 compared to 29,272 in 2012.
However, the national average of 25% was partly driven by the booming London market, where the numbers of new properties rose by 43%.
The South West from June to August saw just 3,284 new registrations compared to 3,737 over the same period last year.
Officials at the NHBC cautioned against placing too much emphasis on one set of regional results, arguing that the registration of one large development of hundreds of homes could skew figures.
Jim Lyons, the South West regional director, admitted he was surprised at the regional decline.
Mr Lyons said land banking could be an issue, where plots were bought at the "top of the market" and remain unprofitable.
"All the major builders are extremely busy and I am still optimistic that the numbers will go up next year without a doubt," he added.
"We might hit 110,000 but whether we will hit 200,000 is quite a challenge and a huge jump.
The Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, Andrew George, said the number of new homes was less important than whether the "right type" of homes were being built.
"My concern is that there is too much of an obsession with hitting housing numbers and not enough on addressing the enormous waiting lists," he added.
"It is not good that numbers are low but when figures were high poverty increased."