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Planning applications dip for second time in 2021

Words: Huw Morris

Planning applications in September fell below 60,000 and may herald a return to normal numbers of submissions, according to latest statistics unveiled by the Planning Portal.

A total of 56,244 applications were submitted in England and Wales last month, 1 per cent higher than August’s figure of 55,682 but also 1 per cent less than September last year when 56,778 were made. This is the first time applications have been lower than the same month in the preceding year since the initial lockdown for Covid-19.

The Planning Portal says “it could just be that we are now seeing a settling back to a more normal volume and pattern of applications” while England and Wales “are entering somewhat unknown territory” in the final quarter of 2021.

The number of applications for home improvements was “noticeably lower” than previous levels for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. Homeowner and associated consent submissions were up only 2 per cent on last year while lawful development certificates were on a par with September 2020 and larger home extensions dropped by 9 per cent.

The Planning Portal says the huge growth in the second half of last year was likely down to a combination of “homeowners with money saved from being unable to spend in their usual way and a desire to improve the living and working space which many people spent more time in”.

Residential applications for full planning and associated consents show a net gain in homes this year of 128,874, while outline applications have reached 80,665 - raising the figure to 209,539. This figure does not include residential applications in London, which will be available next month.

While there has been a “negligible change” in submissions across regions when compared to September 2020, Wales has seen the most significant increase in applications with an 11 per cent rise on last year. The South East and London reported the highest number of applications at 11,373 and 10,650 respectively - although these are down slightly by 135 and 351 on last year.

A total of £24.9 million was paid in planning fees in September 2021, up from nearly £22.6 million on the same month last year. This means £231 million has been generated in fees for local planning authorities so far this year up from around £188 million on September 2020 and around £200 million in 2019.

Image credit | iStock