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Policy & Activities

26 February, 2014

HOUSING PLANNING PERMISSIONS UP

- Further evidence of strong increase in house building activity  

Figures released today in HBF’s latest Housing Pipeline report show that planning permission was granted for 52,534 new homes in Q4 of last year, the highest quarterly total since Q1 2008. In total 174,471 planning permissions were granted in England in 2013, the highest annual figure since 2007.

The report, produced for HBF by Glenigan, shows that in England;

  • Q4 permissions granted were up 19% on Q3 and 17% on Q4 2012
  • 2013 permissions were up 24% on 2012 and 51% on 2011
  • 885 sites were granted approval, the highest quarterly total since Q1 2008
  • 51% more permissions were granted in 2013 than at the ‘trough’ in 2011

The figures come on top of other data showing a steep increase in house building activity in recent months. Last week Government released figures showed the number of new homes started in 2013 was up 23%, with a 29% year-on-year increase in private housing starts since the launch of the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme.

The report is a strong forward indicator of future levels of home building. A large proportion of these homes will be built over the next two to three years. Builders are looking to start on new sites as they build out their existing sites more quickly as demand for new homes increases, driven in particular by the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme.

Launched last April, the scheme is delivering around 2500 reservations a month. This increase in demand is allowing builders to increase output, building the homes the country needs and creating jobs on sites and in the supply chain. 

Its success demonstrates clearly why Government needs to start planning now to ensure it phases out the scheme is a way that is sensitive to the prevailing economic climate at the time and that doesn’t damage the market and threaten the momentum the scheme is generating. It is currently proposed to withdraw the scheme from April 2016. 

The upturn in planning permissions also reflects the positive impact of the planning principles established by the ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ introduced last year. The NPPF is having an increasing impact as local authorities work to put local plans in place – or risk losing decisions on appeals as a result.

But whilst very positive in demonstrating an upward trend, the 2013 total figure is still well short of the 240,000 permissions required on average each year to meet the country’s level of housing requirements.     

Speaking today, Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF, said; “The increase in planning permissions will help support a continuation of the big increase in house building activity we have seen since early last year. After some very tough years, that saw housing supply drop to record low levels, it is now increasingly evident that house-building activity is on the up.

“Help to Buy Equity Loan is increasing demand for new homes and the industry is increasing its output as a result. People’s inability to buy in recent years has been the biggest constraint on the industry’s efforts to build more homes. If people can buy, builders will build. Help to Buy is allowing people who can afford to buy a home to do so, meaning builders can get on with building the homes the country needs.

“As a result of this increase in activity, the industry is recruiting a significant number of people and training more apprentices. The supply chain is also gearing up to meet the increased level of demand, generating an economic boost the length and breadth of the country.

“We are though still building at a rate well short of the number of homes the country requires. Government needs to continue to implement policies that result in a rate of house building that meets the country’s housing requirements. Doing so will deliver significant economic and social benefits.”

Allan Wilén, Glenigan’s Economics Director, said: “Our latest data reveals a further increase in detailed planning approval during the final quarter of last year. This supports expectations of strengthening new housing activity during 2014, with house builders responding to rising demand from purchasers.”

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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. Click here to download the report
  3. With over 30 years’ experience, Glenigan is the genuine market leading provider of UK construction and civil engineering project, company and market information.
  4. 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.