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New home permissions highest since 2008 - report

Words: Laura Edgar

Planning permission for 59,875 homes was granted in England during the third quarter of last year – an increase from 53,409 permissions in the same period of 2014.

The report, New Housing Pipeline: Q3 2015 report (pdf) by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and construction market analyst Glenigan, suggests that 242,819 permissions were granted in the 12 months to October 2015, the highest since 2008.

However, the HBF and Glenigan said many of the homes identified in the report still have a “significant part of the planning system to navigate before any construction work can start”, which could take two or three years.

According to the figures, 181,000 new homes were built in 2014/15, which “broadly equates to” the volume of planning permission recorded two to three years. But the industry remains concerned that the time lag between turning permissions into homes is getting longer.

The government is holding a consultation on proposals to fast-track planning applications and introducing competition into the planning process. The proposals are aimed at tackling the “lack of incentive” for councils to improve and speed up their planning services.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said house builders had delivered an “unprecedented increase” in build rates over the past two years.

“The industry’s ability to increase output still further will largely be dictated by the rate at which planning permissions are granted. While the overall increase in outline permissions is welcome, most of these still have to navigate the complexities of the planning system before they can be built. It is imperative we speed up the time it takes for applications to be processed to the point that builders can actually build if we are to deliver further increases in housing supply.

“Introducing competition into the planning process and finding a way to incentivise local authorities to deal with applications more quickly would be a welcome step in the right direction.”

Allan Wilén, Glenigan’s economics director, said the company expects “the expanding development pipeline to feed through to a rise in project starts during the current year”.

The report, which includes permission granted on all sites, can be found here (pdf).

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