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The number of new home planning permissions continues to rise, with permission for 293,127 new homes granted in 2016, according to the latest HBF/Glenigan Housing Pipeline survey. This is the highest yearly total recorded since the report, compiled by Glenigan, began in 2006, with plot permission numbers now exceeding the pre-crash peak by around 15%. While the numbers are a strong indicator of future supply, the report also shows that an increase in smaller sites is needed to help tackle the country’s housing shortage. The increase the number of units being granted planning permissions by local authorities is welcome. However, there is concern at the drop in the number of sites permissioned, falling by 11% compared with 2015 (from 19,600 in 2015 to 17,500 in 2016). This indicates that permissions are being granted on larger ‘strategic’ sites. Whilst the headline number of plots permissioned now exceeds the pre-crash peak by around 15%, the number of sites on which those homes could eventually be built is down by more than 10%. Due to the infrastructure requirements associated with larger sites, these permissions tend to take longer to start being delivered and will tend to be built out over a longer period of time. The HBF believe that it is key that Local Authorities are realistic about the rate at which large sites can deliver and don’t expect one large site to address their housing requirements. The average size of permissioned sites has increased by 16% in the last 18 months as local authorities focus their attention on larger sites. This highlights the problems small housebuilders have in finding suitable sites and progressing them through the planning process. As per the Government’s Housing White Paper, local authorities need to work with developers to determine accurate build out rates so they can accurately predict the number of homes are being delivered on a site and thus overall housing delivery in their area. In addition, the White Paper called on local authorities to provide a mix in the type and size of sites granted permission and not to rely on a few large sites.

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