Planning permissions granted in principle for close to 200,000 new homes a year

13 Mar, 2015

Planning permissions granted in principle for close to 200,000 new homes a year

Local Authorities now need to ensure departments are able to process applications if more homes are to be built

Figures released today in HBF and Glenigan’s latest Housing Pipeline report show that permissions in principle for over 195,000 new homes in England were granted in 2014, up 12% on the previous year and 39% on 2012. The number of permissions for private homes was up 23%.

The homes identified in this latest report will, once they have navigated the remainder of the planning process, in the main be completed over the next 2-3 years.  Over the past 18 months, house building activity has increased significantly, with figures released last month showing the number of new homes started in 2014 was up 36% on 2012.  As demand for new homes continues to increase, due to improved consumer confidence and the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, existing sites are getting built out quicker and so builders are looking to get on to more new sites more quickly than before.

Whilst the increases are positive, they can only be translated into desperately needed new homes if local authorities ensure their planning departments have the capacity to process these permissions to the stage that they can actually be built. Too many sites are ‘stuck’ in the planning system, with an estimated 150,000 plots at ‘outline permission’ stage awaiting full sign off by local authorities.   New government initiatives to introduce “deemed discharge” of conditions will greatly assist in making sure the planning system will not be a constraint on increased housing provision but the overall resourcing of planning departments is still a concern. Central and local government must prioritise proper resourcing of planning departments if authorities are to be able to efficiently process more applications, as recommended by the HBF in its representations to the Chancellor in advance of this week’s Budget.

Speeding up the rate at which permissions are granted is one of the keys to a significant, sustainable increase in housing supply. Local Authorities must be resourced sufficiently to be able to sustain this increase in the rate of planning permissions being granted in order that the industry can increase housing output.

Figures in the latest report show that more permissions were granted in 2014 that in any year since 2008. It also shows that the number of sites getting permission continues to trend upwards. Getting more sites operational is absolutely key to a sustained increase in actual build numbers as more sites, means more construction work and sales outlets.

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

“Over the past 18 months, demand for new homes, largely driven by the Help to Buy equity loan scheme has increased markedly. Housebuilders have responded by significantly increasing house building activity.

“We are still only building around half the number of new homes the country needs. Getting the required number of permissions, in a timely manner, is absolutely key to the industry’s ability to deliver. In addition more needs to be done to speed up the plots that are awaiting final approval to allow construction to commence.

“These figures are a barometer on potential future build rates. But to turn them into actual construction sites requires Local Authorities to processs them in a timely fashion to the stage when builders can build.

“If we are to meet housing demand it is imperative that the planning system continues to evolve such that it delivers planning permissions at the rate required to address our housing crisis.

“Increasing housing delivery will provide the high quality homes our next generation needs, support thousands of companies up and down the land and create tens of thousands of jobs.”

Commenting on the latest data Glenigan’s Economic Director, Allan Wilén, said, “The 20% rise in planning approvals in the final quarter of 2014 was driven by an increase in private sector projects and reflects developers’ confidence at prospects for the housing market during the year ahead. Furthermore , the rise in approvals has been broadly based across Britain, pointing to widespread strengthening in housing market activity.

The figures come the day before senior politicians from all the parties join thousands of people from across the housing sector in Westminster for the Homes for Britain rally. The campaign is urging politicians to introduce policies that will solve the housing crisis in a generation.

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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.