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Planning permissions were granted in principle for close to 200,000 new homes a year in the UK in 2014, an increase of 12% compared to 2013 and up 39% on 2012, according to new data. However, local Authorities now need to ensure departments are able to process applications if more homes are to be built, says the latest report from the Home Builders Federation and Glenigan, adding that the pace is only half what is needed. The homes identified in the report will, once they have navigated the remainder of the planning process, in the main be completed over the next two to three years and the research also shows that the number of new homes started in 2014 was up 36% on 2012. It says that as demand for new homes continues to increase, due to improved consumer confidence and the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, existing sites are getting built on quicker and so builders are looking to get on to more new sites more quickly than before. But it points out that whilst the increases are positive, they can only be translated into desperately needed new homes if local authorities ensure their planning departments have the capacity to process these permissions to the stage that they can actually be built. Too many sites are ‘stuck’ in the planning system, with an estimated 150,000 plots at ‘outline permission’ stage awaiting full sign off by local authorities. New government initiatives to introduce deemed discharge of conditions will greatly assist in making sure the planning system will not be a constraint on increased housing provision but the overall resourcing of planning departments is still a concern, the report explains. It add that central and local government must prioritise proper resourcing of planning departments if authorities are to be able to efficiently process more applications, as recommended by the HBF. It believes that speeding up the rate at which permissions are granted is one of the keys to a significant, sustainable increase in housing supply. Local Authorities must be resourced sufficiently to be able to sustain this increase in the rate of planning permissions being granted in order that the industry can increase housing output. Figures in the latest report show that more permissions were granted in 2014 that in any year since 2008. It also shows that the number of sites getting permission continues to trend upwards. Getting more sites operational is absolutely key to a sustained increase in actual build numbers as more sites, means more construction work and sales outlets. ‘Over the past 18 months, demand for new homes, largely driven by the Help to Buy equity loan scheme has increased markedly. House builders have responded by significantly increasing house building activity,’ said Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF. ‘We are still only building around half the number of new homes the country needs. Getting the required number of permissions, in a timely manner, is absolutely key… Continue reading →
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