Blocked pipeline threatens housing supply

7 Jan, 2011

New report shows alarming drop in housing approvals

A new quarterly report, published today (click here to view), gives the first full and accurate picture of the number of planning permissions being granted by Local Authorities across the country.

The results, for Q3 of 2010, show how planning permissions to build new homes have dropped alarmingly from 2007/08 levels and are at one of the lowest levels in the last five years, and the second lowest of the past 19 quarters.

The implications of this collapse in permissions are stark and threaten to exacerbate an already acute housing crisis. Currently the country has a housing shortfall estimated to be a million homes, and last year saw the lowest number built since 1923.

 Permissions granted for homes typically take up to three years to build. So the implications of this drop will not be felt for some time. However, with household formation projections showing the need for the country to build around 232,000 homes a year until 2033, and 2009’s total at just 118,000 – there is obvious potential for the crisis to deepen.

The New Housing Pipeline report shows that through 2010 there has been a steady fall in permissions granted to developers for new homes, with a drop in England from over 40,000 in Q1 to just over 30,000 in Q3. This drop coincides with radical changes to the planning system by the new Government, and a shift from the old top down targets to a new localism based approach that hands more power to Local Authorities.

Speaking today, HBF Executive Chairman Stewart Baseley said.

“The report paints a bleak picture and shows how permissions, the lifeblood of housing supply, have plummeted. We already have an acute housing crisis and these figures show there is potential for it to get much worse. The social and economic implications of this would be a disaster for the country.

“The Government cannot afford to let confusion over planning policy reduce further the number of permissions given. Whilst the policy vacuum of the past few months is now being filled, it is vital Government gets on and implements its new policies. It must ensure Local Authorities accept responsibility and the power they have been given. It is crucial Councils recognise the housing shortage, understand the new system and appreciate the Govt’s incentives and allow developers to build the homes their residents and the country desperately need.”

The report, complied by Glenigan for HBF, is the first of what will be quarterly monitoring. It will provide a regular and accurate assessment of the situation being faced by developers as Local Authorities get used to the new planning system.

Download Housing Pipeline Report

For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, please contact Steve Turner on 020 7960 1606 / 07919 307 760 or

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Notes to Editors:

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the representative body of the home building industry in England and Wales. The HBF’s 300 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: 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. The report for Q4 2010 will be published on Feb 21; for Q1 2011 on May 03; Q2 on Aug 22; and Q3 Nov 21.

HBF Report - Housing pipeline - december 2010