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Policy & Activities

02 December, 2013

Big Jump in Housing Planning Permissions

Figures show further evidence of strong increase in sustained house building activity – but constraints need addressing

Figures released today in HBFs latest Housing Pipeline report show a big increase in the number of planning permissions being granted for new homes. The report – produced for HBF by Glenigan – shows that 44,251 permissions were granted in Q3 in England on 826 sites. This is;

  • up 31% year on year and 19% on the previous quarter
  • the highest total number of permissions granted in a Q3 since 2007
  • the highest no of sites granted planning approval since Q2 2008
  • he total for the 12 months to September, at 166,978, is up 44% on the trough in 2011

This is a strong forward indicator of future levels of home building. The upturn reflects the positive planning principles of the new ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ planning system introduced last year. The NPPF is having an increasing impact as local authorities attempt to put local plans in place – or risk losing decisions on appeals as a result.

It is also undoubtedly an indicator that developers are looking to get work underway on new sites as they build out their existing sites more quickly as a result of the enormously successful Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme. Since its introduction in April it has resulted in over 18,000 reservations of new homes, bringing a renewed level of confidence to the industry and directly leading to a significant increase in build rates.

The planning figures are the latest positive indicators to emerge for the sector. Last week official Government statistics showed the number of private sector new homes started in England in Q3 was up 29% year-on-year to the highest level since Q1 2008; whilst the largest new home warranty provider, NHBC, said registrations of new homes in Q3 were up 19% on last year.

Whilst extremely positive in demonstrating an upward trend, the total figure is still well short of the 60,000 permissions required on average per quarter to meet the country’s level of housing need. It is also concerning that many residential planning permissions come with long lists of ‘conditions’ that local authorities then take a long time to clear, which then delays house builders from starting work on new sites. If build rates are to increase, local authorities have to play their part or Government must act.

Speaking today, Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF, said; “This is the latest indicator to show how the industry is looking to quickly increase output. We have already seen evidence of a rise in new homes starts and these figures show the industry’s intent to increase and sustain that over the next few years. Developers are building out current sites more quickly and are now looking to invest in new sites and begin development sooner than previously planned.

“The figures reflect the positive principles of the new planning system. They are also a clear demonstration that builders are looking to increase supply as a result of increased market confidence generated by the Help to Buy Equity loan scheme.

“But if we are to see the required increase in supply continue we need to see all local authorities playing their part. Increasingly we are seeing onerous conditions being attached to permissions that unnecessarily delay work starting on new sites. There are now tens of thousands of plots with permission but which house builders cannot start. This is a situation that Local Government - and ministers - need to urgently address if we are to see recent home building increases sustained.”

Glenigan’s Allan Wilen saidGlenigan has tracked a progressive strengthening in planning approvals during the course of this year. The latest quarterly rise in planning approvals bodes well for 2014, indicating that housebuilders are responding to the rising demand from house purchasers, which is in part supported by the Help to Buy scheme. Furthermore the sharpest rises in planning approvals during the quarter were outside of London and the South East, pointing to a broadly based upturn in new housing market activity and project starts during 2014.”

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For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, please contact Steve Turner on 020 7960 1606 or 07919 307760. Steve.turner@hbf.co.uk    

Notes to editors

  1. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the representative body of the home building industry in England and Wales. The HBF’s member firms account for some 80% of all new homes built in England and Wales in any one year, and include companies of all sizes, ranging from multi-national, household names through regionally based businesses to small local companies: www.hbf.co.uk

  2. With over 30 years experience, Glenigan is the genuine market leading provider of UK construction and civil engineering project, company and market information.

    Part of the Insight Division of Emap Limited, one of the UK’s largest media businesses providing must-have information, magazines and events, Glenigan users enjoy small business intimacy combined with business security.  Click here to view the latest Housing pipeline Report Q3 2013.