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Decline in planning decisions and applications in England

Words: Laura Edgar
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District-level planning authorities granted 83,500 decisions in the fourth quarter of 2019, which is equivalent to 87 per cent of decisions.

This is 6 per cent fewer than the number granted in the same quarter a year earlier, according to a statistical report published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Between October and December 2019, 100,300 applications were submitted for planning permission to district planning authorities. This is 7 per cent fewer than between October and December in 2018. 

Of those that were major applications, 89 per cent were decided within 13 weeks or the agreed time, which is the same percentage as the corresponding quarter in 2018.

A total of 11,100 residential applications were granted, a 7 per cent decline compared with a year earlier, while 1,500 major developments were granted and 9,600 minor developments were granted.

According to the statistics, 2,100 applications for commercial developments were granted, 8 per cent fewer than the same quarter in 2018. 


District-level planning authorities granted 347, 300 decisions in the year to December 2019, which is down 5 per cent on the number in 2018.

These authorities granted 44,700 residential decisions. Breaking this down, 5,900 were for major developments – 7 per cent fewer than 2018, and 38,800 were for minor developments, 6 per cent fewer than 2018.

Clive Docwra, managing director of construction consulting and design agency McBains, said: “The government’s ambitious housebuilding target – delivering a million homes in the next five years – was always going to be extremely challenging, and the latest statistics bear this out. However, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will mean this is now virtually impossible.

“Many sites are empty, supply chains have been disrupted, and multimillion-pounds worth of private investment is on hold for the foreseeable future. That will knock back housebuilding rates for months, if not years.

“The government has already announced an unprecedented package of measures to help support business, but once we’ve turned the tide on the virus further help, such as tax incentives, will be needed to get the UK building again.”

Planning Applications in England: October to December 2019 can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).

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