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Planning permissions increased in Q3 - new figures

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing / iStock

The number of planning permissions granted during Q3 of 2016 was up 10 per cent on the second quarter of 2016 and 14 per cent higher than the same period in 2015.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) and Glenigan’s latest Housing Pipeline report suggest that consents for 76,242 homes were granted in England between July and September in 2016.

In the 12 months to September, the total number of permissions was 289,011.

However, the number of actual sites these permissions are on dropped, “indicating local authorities are granting permission for an increasing number of large sites as opposed to the mix of size and type of site needed to deliver more homes”, said the two organisations.

Permissions in the report are recorded once one of the conditions attached to them by the local authority is satisfied.

Allan Wilén, economics director and head of business market intelligence at Glenigan, said the 10 per cent rise in the number of units approved during the third quarter was driven by an increase in private housing.

“The rise demonstrates that house builders remain confident about market prospects for the year ahead with a firm development pipeline ensuring that house builders are well placed to meet demand.”

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, seeks to ensure that planning conditions that require developers to take action before work starts are only used when strictly necessary, but in a way that makes sure heritage and environmental safeguards remain in place.

The HBF has urged ministers to go further in limiting the number of conditions and preventing authorities from imposing spurious conditions that could be dealt with later in the construction process so that builders can get onto sites more quickly.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at the HBF, said: “It is encouraging that so many headline planning permissions are being granted, but we simply have to find a way to unblock the system and reduce the time it takes to get a permission to the stage where builders can actually start building.”

He said construction work shouldn’t be held up by council officers getting round to approving designs for landscaping, playgrounds or ensuring that developers are liaising with community artists.

“These could be agreed while infrastructure work gets started. Our housing crisis is too serious a threat to our future for everyone not to be pulling in the same direction. House builders are keen to increase output further but all parties need to work together if we are going to solve our housing shortage.”

The RTPI said the increase in planning applications being processed by planning authorities demonstrates the significant, ongoing contribution planners make in England to delivery, particularly housing.

Plannning conditions can be a useful quality assurance tool and enable schemes to be permitted which otherwise should be refused, the RTPI continued.

“All users of the planning system should aim to lessen the necessity for conditions by, for example, ensuring that all matters are carefully considered at the front-end of the planning application process.

“Capping the number of conditions, as suggested by the HBF, could be counter-productive insofar as it could lead a decision maker to refuse an application rather than leave details open for negotiation.”

The institute noted that the changes to planning conditions in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill “may help provide more clarity for users of the system”.

“We have suggested further work with relevant bodies, including the RTPI, PAS and RIBA for officers, applicants and elected members, to help encourage good practice in all areas relating to planning conditions, including discretion over at what point in the planning process details should be required. To address reasons why councils see the need to impose stringent conditions, as well as resourcing, a review of applicant understanding practice may also be necessary if a solution to this identified problem is to be properly addressed.”

The report can be found here (pdf).

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