Planning permissions highest since 2008

28 Apr, 2016

Planning permissions highest since 2008

Rise suggests housing output will continue to rise - if builders can get onto sites!

Initial planning permission for 255,032 new homes was granted in England in 2015 – up 57% from a low point of 162,204 in 2009- HBF and Glenigan’s latest Housing Pipeline report shows. Permissions granted in Q4 2015 were up 13% on the same quarter in 2014, to 74,759, as developers submitted more applications to ensure they can continue to deliver further increases in supply.

Permissions have risen steadily every year since 2009, with actual housing supply also increasingly markedly over the past two years as more of the permissions are progressed to the point that infrastructure work can start and house builders can begin building new dwellings

Over 180,000 new homes were added to the housing stock in 2014/15 – up 22% on the previous year - as house builders increased output in response to the rise in demand for new homes.

Many of the permissions counted in the report still have many hurdles to cross as they navigate the complexities of the planning system before actual building work can get underway – for example discharging planning conditions. The industry continues to urge Government to streamline the planning process and ensure Local Authorities have the capacity to deal with the volume of applications now being processed so builders can get on to more sites more quickly.

The figures though are a strong indicator of future supply, and suggest that housing completions will continue to rise as these permissions are turned into implementable permission and are the sites built out over the coming years.

Speaking today, Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF, said; “The number of planning applications now being submitted demonstrates the commitment of the industry to deliver further increases in housing supply. The past two years have seen huge increases in house building levels, with housing supply in England surpassing 180,000 homes per year in 2014-15, up 22% on the previous year. Whilst the increase in the number of permissions is welcome – and a strong indicator of future supply – many still have to navigate the complexities of the planning system. This is a further sign that house builders continue to step up investment in future housing supply but we need to see these permissions being processed to the stage where we can get onto site and start building more quickly and really start to meet demand for housing.”

Allan Wilén, Economics Director, Head of Business Market Intelligence at Glenigan said; “The strong rise in planning approvals during the closing months of 2015, driven by an increase in the number of private housing units approved, bodes well for housebuilding activity during the current year. The expanded development pipeline will help housebuilders to meet any strengthening in demand from house buyers. Furthermore the rise marked rise in approvals in the Midlands and North of England last year demonstrates that the recovery in housing market activity is becoming more established across the country.” 

Proposals announced earlier this year by the Government to introduce competition into the planning process and ‘fast-track’ approvals could eventually lead to permissions being turned into actual building work more quickly. 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.

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.

Click here to download the report.

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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’ attached to the consent is approved. Before an ‘implentable’ permissions is granted that allows work to start on site, a planning obligations (S106) agreement will almost always have to be agreed and signed and all pre-commencement planning conditions attached to the permission have to be discharged. Some permissions will have up to 100 conditions attached.Housing supply – new dwellings, conversions and changes of use (such as office to residential) reached 181,310 in 2014/15, the highest number recorded since 208/9. Factoring in 10,610 demolitions, net supply was 170,690.