The seasonally adjusted National Statistics figures show 27,370 new house-building projects were started between January and March this year.
Private developers are surging ahead, with a seven per cent rise in new projects started during this period while the rise in the housing association sector is only one per cent.
The figures represent a 62 per cent rise above the low first quarter for new housing starts in 2009, but they are still 44 per cent lower than the best first quarter in 2007.
The statisticians estimate that seasonally adjusted completions were 24,900 in the first quarter of 2013, eight per cent lower than the previous quarter. There are also just under half the properties being completed January to March this year than there were in the first quarter of 2007.
Another set of Government figures, also released today, shows four times as many homes were sold - 2,449 - under the Right to Buy scheme between January and March 2013 compared to the same quarter last year.
Housing minister Mark Prisk said the Right to Buy figures demonstrated the real appetite among tenants to "seize the opportunity" to become homeowners.