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350,000 planning approvals in 2017, say housebuilders

Words: Laura Edgar
New housing / Shutterstock_198728240

At least 350,000 new homes were granted planning permission in 2017, according to the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and construction industry data company Glenigan.

The firms’ latest Housing Pipeline report suggests that housing supply has increased by 74 per cent in the past four years, while more than 217,000 new homes were completed on 2017.

Housebuilders say this means that the industry is on track to deliver the government’s previous target of one million homes between 2015 and 2020.

However, they added, “further improvements” to the planning system and the business environment for small builders will be required to meet the prime minister’s target of delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, which was set out in the 2017 Autumn Budget.

In total, 351,169 permissions were granted on 18,079 sites in England last year, which, according to HBF and Glenigan, is the highest since the firms began the Housing Pipeline series in 2006, which serves as a “positive” indicator of future supply.

The firms also emphasise that not all of the permissions will be at a stage where builders can start work. They say this is one of the challenges for the government as it revises the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – reducing the time it takes to get a scheme from the outline planning permission stage to when work can start.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at HBF, said: “The record number of applications being submitted and approved is a clear demonstration of the industry’s commitment to ramping up housing supply even further than the unprecedented increases of the last four years. To build more homes, more land needs to come through the planning system more quickly, and to encompass a broader range of sites. SME builder numbers are down by more than 80 per cent in recent decades as layer upon layer of legislation has worked against small firms and start-ups as well as those delivering specialist housing such as retirement homes.”

Dipa Joshi, director at Assael Architecture, said: "Fixing the UK’s housing market requires a significant increase in the number of affordable units on the market and this report shows that initiatives like shared ownership, discount market rent along with the growing strength of housing associations, and private sector joint ventures are having a palpable effect on the market. There is still a long way to go, but this feels like a breakthrough moment in the years following the housing white paper.”

Housing Pipeline Q4 2017 can be found on the HBF website (pdf).

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