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The latest HBF/ Glenigan Housing Pipeline Report shows a marked recovery in residential planning approvals during the third quarter of 2015 after the sharp drop seen during the preceding three months.

The number of units approved during the quarter was 12% up on the second quarter and 9% higher than a year ago. The rise was supported by increases in the number of both private and social housing units approved and was aided by an increase in the average size of approved projects.

In England, planning permission was granted for 59,875 homes England during the third quarter of last year, up from 53,409 permissions in the corresponding quarter the previous year. The report shows that 242,819 permissions were granted in the 12 months to the end of September. This is the highest ‘moving annual’ total for England since early 2008.

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 a significant part of the planning system to navigate before any construction work can start, a process that could still take two or three years.   

Over the past two years housing output has increased significantly. The latest figures show that there were over 181,000 new homes built in 2014/15- up 22% on the previous year. This broadly equates to the volume of planning permissions recorded some two to three years ago. However, the housebuilders are concerned that the ‘lag’ of turning permissions into homes is becoming lengthier.

Proposals announced last month by the Government this week to introduce competition into the planning process and ‘fast-track’ approvals could eventually lead to improvements. Incentivising Local Authorities to ensure their planning departments have sufficient capacity to deal with an increased volume of applications in a timely manner would play a big part in speeding up the process. Certainly a better resourced planning system has the potential to both ensure that local communities have an input into development of their areas and the quicker delivery of much need new homes.

Residential planning approvals (Great Britain) 

Residential planning approvals (Great Britain) graph


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