1 June, 2012

Welcome increase but numbers still falling well short

Figures released today in HBF’s latest Housing Pipeline report reveal that approvals for 36,761 new homes were given in England in the first quarter of this year, a 10% increase year on year and 33% up on the previous quarter.  But approval levels are still way short of the 60,000 required each quarter to meet housing need, and the level that was being achieved four years ago. 

The report, compiled for HBF by Glenigan reveals;

36,731 approvals granted in England compared to 27,732 in Q4 and 33,450 Q1 201131,078 private housing approvals granted, up 37% on Q4 2011 and 18% Q1 20114,313 social housing approvals granted in England down 28% from 5,983 on Q1 2011 Permissions granted in London up 89% on Q1 2011 to 12,923

Planning permissions granted now will, in the main, be built during the next three or four years. At a time when fewer homes are being built in England than at any time since the 1920s, it is imperative that the number of permissions granted continues to increase.

The figures cover the period just before publication of the National Planning Policy Framework that forms the basis of a new planning system. Its success will be dependent up on its interpretation and implementation by Local Authorities to whom many powers have now transferred.

The social effects of continuing to undersupply homes are obvious: five million people languish on local authority waiting lists, millions more live in over-crowded and substandard accommodation, whilst first-time buyers have all but disappeared – further stagnating the housing market. We are currently building just over 100,000 homes year whilst 240,000 are needed to meet demand. Delivering these extra homes could create half a million jobs and boost the economy both locally and nationally.

Speaking today, Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF, said; “The increase in permissions is welcome, but if we are to address our acute housing crisis we need to see to see continued increases in the number of permissions for new homes granted over a sustained period.

”How Local Authorities interpret the new planning system will be crucial. They now have the power, but with that comes responsibility and they must act to meet their areas’ housing needs.

“Solving the country’s housing crisis will deliver major social and economic benefits. Providing desperately needed decent homes will in turn create thousands of jobs and give the economy a huge boost.”

Allan Wilén, Glenigan’s Economics Director, commented, “The turnaround in planning approvals during the first quarter is encouraging, especially after the weak finish to last year. The rise in approvals was driven by an increase in private sector approvals, pointing to improved confidence amongst house builders at the medium term prospects for the housing market. In contrast the drop in social housing approvals indicates that housing associations have been scaling back their development plans.”

Housing pipeline - Q1 2012 report

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For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, please contact Steve Turner on 020 7960 1606 / 07919 307 760 or steve.turner@hbf.co.uk