New home planning permissions highest since 2008

25 Feb, 2016

“It is imperative we speed up the time it takes for applications to be processed to the point that builders can actually build if we are to deliver further increases in supply.”

Figures released today in HBF and Glenigan’s latest Housing Pipeline report show that planning permission for 59,875 homes was granted in England during the third quarter of last year, up from 53,409 permissions in the corresponding quarter the previous year. The report shows that 242,819 permissions were granted in the 12 months to October. This is the highest ‘moving annual’ total since early 2008.

As the country looks to increase housing supply from the very low levels of recent years the increased number of homes being planned is extremely welcome. However, many of the homes identified in the report* still have a significant part of the planning system to navigate before any construction work can start, a process that could still take two or three years.  

Over the past two years housing output has increased significantly. The latest figures show that there were over 181k** new homes built in 2014/15- up 22% on the previous year. This broadly equates to the volume of planning permissions recorded some two to three years ago. However, the industry remains concerned that the ‘lag’ of turning permissions into homes is becoming lengthier.

Proposals announced this month by the Government this week to introduce competition into the planning process and ‘fast-track’ approvals could eventually lead to improvements. Incentivising Local Authorities to ensure their planning departments have sufficient capacity to deal with an increased volume of applications in a timely manner would play a big part in speeding up the process.  Efficient planning is the best way to ensure that local people have an early say in the future shape of their communities and are able to benefit from the wealth of social and economic benefits that house building brings with it. We now need to see the detail developed and the measures implemented as soon as is possible.

Speaking today, Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF, said;

“The house building industry has delivered an unprecedented increase in build rates over the past two years. The largest companies have increased their output by around 50% with overall housing numbers now up to around 180,000 a year.

“The industry’s ability to increase output still further will largely be dictated by the rate at which planning permissions are granted. Whilst the overall increase in outline permissions is welcome, most of these still have to navigate the complexities of the planning system before they can be built. It is imperative we speed up the time it takes for applications to be processed to the point that builders can actually build if we are to deliver further increases in housing supply.

“Introducing competition into the planning process and finding a way to incentivise Local Authorities to deal with applications more quickly would be a welcome step in the right direction.

Commenting on the figures, Glenigan’s Economics Director, Allan Wilén said, “Planning approvals strengthened in the third quarter, as private sector developers bring forward more and larger sites than a year ago. Glenigan expect the expanding development pipeline to feed through to a rise in project starts during the current year.”

The Housing Pipeline report now shows permissions granted on all sites. Previous versions did not include numbers for sites of under 10 units. All historic figures have been adjusted to reflect the change in methodology.

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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 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: is the UK’s leading provider of construction data, contract leads and construction market analysis. Combining comprehensive data gathering and exhaustive research with detailed statistical modelling and expert analysis, it delivers a trusted insight into UK construction trends and activity.The housing approvals data analysed in this report is drawn from Glenigan’s extensive database of current and planned construction projects. Glenigan’s detailed coverage of planned housing projects across the UK offers valuable strategic and tactical insights into developers’ active sights and pipeline, with sites tracked through to completion. ‘Permissions’ are measured when the first ‘reserve matter’ or ‘condition’ that is attached to the outline consent is discharged. Before an ‘implantable’ permissions is granted that allows work to start on site, all conditions attached to the outline permission have to be discharged. Some permissions will have up to 100 conditions attached Housing supply reached 181,310 in 2014/15, the highest number recorded since 208/9. Factoring in 10,610 demolitions, net supply was 170,690.

HPL Report 2015 Q3

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