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New research from the Policy Exchange suggests that the planned abolition by the coalition government of Regional Strategies in 2010 has adversely affected the number of new homes being built or going to be built across England in the future. The research, Planning for Less - The impact of abolishing regional planning, makes the point that as of mid-2012 57% of Local Authorities in England (excluding London) had reduced their housing targets compared to 2010 levels. The chart below from the report shows the extent that each region has reduced its mid-2012 target compared to targets laid out in the Regional Strategies. I.e. almost 60% of authorities in the South West have reduced their housing targets since 2010.

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The research infers that this lowering in the target number of homes will lead over the long term to a reduction in the number of homes being built.  However it was a widely reported fact that the target numbers agreed through the Regional Strategies to meet anticipated growth in the number of households at a regional level were rarely met at the local authority level. It is accordingly too early to tell whether the abolition of the Regional Strategy regime has had a direct impact on the number of new homes being approved or built. 
Data from Glenigan on private residential planning approvals however gives little indication that the action since 2010 has led to any adverse effect on detailed planning approvals to date that cannot be accounted for by the economic downturn. In fact over the 2012 the numbers of planning approvals for private residential properties increased across all eight regions in which Regional Strategies were abolished, as the chart below shows. Despite this the number of planning approvals remains well below the peak levels of 2006 and 2007. While the planning system is far from perfect, in the near term it is overwhelmingly economic factors that are keeping the current level of house building below these peak levels. The concern is that the removal of regional targets will lower local authorities’ expectations over new housing supply, resulting in a tightening in planning approvals ovr the longer term.  
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