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October, 2018
Planning permissions rise to record levels

New data released by HBF and Glenigan has shown that planning permissions continued to be granted at record high levels in England in the year to June.

The report shows that for the year up to June 2018 354,646 plots were granted planning permission on 20,076 sites, the first time for a decade that more than 20,000 sites have been granted planning permission in a 12 month period. HBF says that over the course of the past ten years the average permissioned site has increased in size by 58% from 19 units to 30 but that today’s figures reflect the first fall in average site size for annualised planning permissions for almost five years. This, it argues, should assist SME builders and better enable them to play their part in delivering increases in supply.

However permissions granted in Q2 of this year – the latest quarter in the report - are down 15% on last year at 77,704. “While it is difficult to attribute this to any single factor, it may have been, in part, as a result of uncertainty over the future of Help to Buy post-March 2021, as many plots currently being permissioned will be delivered into and beyond 2021,” said HBF. It also cited uncertainty around new planning policies ahead of the publication of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was eventually published in July, and the local elections which often cause delays at local authorities.

The report also identifies some significant regional variations. Approvals were down on the same quarter last year in some areas including London, but in contrast, approvals were up in Wales (25%), Yorkshire and Humber (23%) and the South West (11%) against a year earlier.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at HBF, welcomed the figures: “We have seen a 74% increase in housing supply in four years, and the report shows the commitment of the industry to delivering further increases. The fact that permissions are now running at over 350,000 a year shows that builders are investing in the land, and people needed to deliver more homes. If we are to get to 300,000 homes a year, we need to see consistently high levels of permissions being granted, and then crucially, processed efficiently. We also need to see the new planning system implemented by local authorities as intended and more sites, of all sizes, coming forward. Providing certainty over the future of the Help to Buy scheme, that has been central to the increases in output we have seen, is also key.”

Allan Wilen, Glenigan’s economics director, added, “The residential development pipeline remains strong, despite a second quarter dip in residential unit approvals from the historically high levels seen over the last year. Indeed, the number of projects securing approval was up 17% on a year ago as permission was granted for more smaller sites.”