Planning application slump thwarts Govt plans to boost housing stock

Planning applications continued to fall in the first quarter of this year, despite repeated government pledges to build more homes and tackle the UK’s housing crisis. 

Figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities show that 109,900 applications for panning permission were received between January and March 2022, a 12% fall in number on the same period the year before.

During this first quarter the department granted 84,000 decisions, a 4% reduction from last year. It said this meant that 87% of applications were approved, a figure that was down by one percentage point year-on-year. 

In total 85% of major applications were decided on within 13 weeks of the agreed time. This too was down on the comparable period last year, by three percentage points. 

In total the DLPHC granted 9,300 residential applications, down 6% year on year. This included 1,200 major developments and 8,000 minor developments. 

In addition it granted 1,900 applications for commercial developments, down by 2% compared to 2021 figures.

In the year ending March 2022 district level planning authorities granted 373,400 decisions, this figure was up by 15% when compared to the year before. 

This included 38,000 decision on residential developments, of which 4,700 were for major developments and 33,200 for minor developments. These figures were down by 4% and 2% respectively.

The industry said it was disappointed by these figures which highlighted the flaws in the planning system and the lack of action when it comes to boosting the housing stock and providing more affordable homes.

Coreco managing director Andrew Montlake says: “Though house prices are under pressure, the one constant in these times of flux, of course, is the lack of supply and homes being built. The dearth of good quality, affordable housing for sale will support prices even as we go through an unprecedented cost of living crisis.”

Mortgage broker Scott Taylor-Barr of Carl Summer Financial Services  says: “It has been said many times before that we are not building enough homes and this has been the primary cause of rocketing house price inflation over the decades. 

So, why aren’t we? The first issue is that there is no commercial desire to. After all, if you were one of the very few large national house builders, would you be in a rush to build lots of new houses and slash your profit per unit? Probably not. The other issue is planning and Nimby-ism. We all want more houses, just so long as they’re built somewhere else.”

Shaw Financial Services founder Lewis Shaw says: “The planning system is broken. We need to build more good quality affordable homes. We should prevent developers from land-banking and find a way of giving first-time buyers first dibs on developments. On top of that, we need to build more social homes and take some heat out of the private rented sector, to bring rents back to reality.”

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