Thursday, 16 September 2021

Planning approval rise is positive trend

A SIGNIFICANT annual increase in planning approvals has prompted talk of a potential house building boom in Britain.

A SIGNIFICANT annual increase in planning approvals has prompted talk of a potential house building boom in Britain.

Planning approvals for new homes in England in the second quarter were 49 per cent higher than a year ago, according to the latest House Builders Federation (HBF) Housing Pipeline report. There was a decline between the first and second quarters of this year, but a total of 77,686 permissions granted in the first six months of the year represents a 26 per cent year-on-year increase.

The moving annual total reached a low point of 117,067 in the 12 months to quarter three of 2011, with the current total some 34 per cent higher at 156,608. Amid various reports of renewed activity in the residential property market, observers may be taking encouragement from the suggestion that more new houses will be built as increasing numbers of people embark on a property search.

HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley describes the overall trend in planning permissions for residential property as “very positive”. He believes the improving figures are due to both improving sentiment among house builders and the positive aspects of the new planning system.

“With Help to Buy forging ahead strongly and developers looking to increase output, we need to see the increase sustained,” he commented. But despite the warm welcome for the latest planning figures, some industry insiders have expressed concern about the planning conditions attached to many permissions that act as an obstacle to construction work getting underway. When they grant planning permission, local authorities set “planning conditions”, which can include “pre-commencement” conditions that need to be met before work starts.

There have been increasing reports from builders of such conditions being put in place in some cases these conditions can amount to 100 separate items meaning it can take several years after permission is granted to actually start work on site.

Mr Baseley said the HBF is “increasingly concerned” about this state of affairs, coming at a time when developers are wanting to build what are much-needed new homes. “Local Authorities must ensure planning conditions are not overly onerous or unrealistic otherwise, despite the success of Help to Buy, the much-needed increase in housing supply will be held back.”

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