New home planning permissions hit 200,000 mark

New home planning permissions have passed the 200,000 mark for the first time since early 2008, paving the way for new jobs in the building construction trades.

Figures released by the Home Builders Foundation (HBF) and Glenigan’s latest Housing Pipeline report show that planning permissions for 52,167 homes were granted in England during the first quarter of this year.

This is a 19% increase on the 43,926 permissions in the corresponding quarter last year. Figures in the latest report show that 203,810 permissions were granted in the 12 months to April.

As the country looks to increase housing supply from the very low levels of recent years the increased number of homes being planned is extremely welcome.

However, many of the homes identified in the report still have to navigate the remainder of the planning system, a process that continues to take far too long, delaying work starting on many of the sites.

Since the introduction of the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme in 2013, housing output has increased significantly. The planning process, however, remains a significant constraint on the industry’s ability to meet the higher levels of demand and deliver further increases in supply.

Speaking today, Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF, said: “Since the Help to Buy scheme was introduced in 2013 house building activity has increased strongly. Private housing starts in 2014 were up nearly 40% on their pre-Help to Buy level in 2012. However we are still only building around half the number of new homes the country needs, and far fewer than in previous decades.

One of the biggest constraints on the industry’s ability to meet the new level of demand and deliver further sustained increases in build rates is the planning process. How quickly we get more sites to the point where we can actually start to lay bricks will be a major influence on future house building levels.

The headline announcements made in the Productivity Plan sound very positive. What is key is that the detail is now developed and the proposals implemented as soon as is possible.

Increasing housing delivery will provide the high quality homes our next generation needs, support thousands of companies up and down the land and create tens of thousands of jobs.”