Permissions recover to 2008 levels

Planning permissions hit a six-year high in Q2 2014, according to the Home Builders Federation (HBF) Housing Pipeline report. The report, compiled by construction analyst Glenigan, showed that permissions for 56,647 homes were granted in England in the second quarter, lifting the moving annual total to 197,325 permissions in the 12 months to Q2 2014, the highest figure since 2008. The HBF said that the numbers tallied with the “significant” increases in private housebuilding activity seen across the country.

However, it added that housebuilders needed to be able to replace completed sites with newly permissioned ones to boost housebuilding further. The number of actual sites gaining approval was trailing behind the number of plots gaining permission – an indication that it was larger strategic sites coming forward. In Q2, 715 new sites gained permission; in 2007/8 more than 1,000 were granted per quarter.

The HBF stated that it was “imperative” to have work underway on more sites, with the number of sales outlets being as important as the total number of dwelling permissions achieved.

It added that speeding up the rate at which permissions are granted was also crucial to more housing. Separate figures from HBF show around 150,000 plots “stuck” in the planning system, awaiting full sign off.

Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman, said:

“The increase in the overall number of new homes getting planning approval is very positive. Everyone is agreed that we need to dramatically increase housebuilding to address our housing crisis and so getting more planning permissions is imperative.

“The comparatively low number of actual sites getting permissions is concerning. We need to see work underway on more sites if the overall number of new homes being built is to continue to increase.”

David Mote