Planning permissions reach new low

The latest Housing Pipeline Report from the Home Builders Federation (HBF), with data supplied by Glenigan, shows that in the 12 months to March 2024, the number of new homes and sites given planning permission in Great Britain has reached a new low.

The year to March 2024 saw the fewest new housing sites consented than during any 12-month period since the data collection began in 2006, showing that the housing pipeline is significantly smaller now than it was even during the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008/09.

Planning permissions are a lead indicator of future supply levels, and the latest numbers confirm industry warnings about the impacts of changes to the planning system, the HBF said.

The report, which includes data for the beginning of 2024, shows that the number of units achieving planning permission in the year to 31st March 2024 was 236,644, the lowest 12-month total since Q3 2014. Year on year, this is a 13% drop, and down 22% over the past two years.

The number of units approved during Q1 2024 – 53,862 – is the lowest quarterly total since Q2 2015. This is a 19% drop on the previous quarter and 13% on the same period last year.

In London, 7,613 units were approved in Q1 2024. This is the lowest quarterly figure since 2012. Additionally, it is a 39% drop on the same period last year and a 51% drop compared to Q4 2023. The rolling 12-month total for units approved in London was the lowest since Q3 2015.

Other regions seeing significant drops included the East Midlands, which saw a 47% drop on the previous quarter and 36% drop year-on-year. Yorkshire and the Humber saw a 33% drop on the previous quarter; and the southeast saw a 24% drop.

HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley said: “Amidst a deepening housing crisis and with house building levels already falling sharply, these numbers present a bleak picture for future housing supply.

“The report also puts into stark perspective the challenges a new government faces to meet its housing ambitions with a pipeline smaller even than during smaller even than during 2009 and the depths of recession. Reversing the trend will require immediate and drastic action to remove the significant barriers to housing delivery we face.

“We need to see immediate action to reverse the damaging changes made in recent years to the planning system and to ensure local authorities have the capacity to deal effectively with permissions.

“We also need to see effective support put in place to help buyers purchase high quality, energy efficient new homes. For the first time in many decades, there is no effective Government support in place for prospective buyers.

“It is also essential that politicians find a solution to the pointless blockade of 160,000 homes now entering its sixth year as a result of nutrient neutrality, towards which new homes make a negligible contribution.

”The next government must grasp the nettle and be bold and brave if it is going to help meet the country’s housing needs. Doing so will deliver huge social and economic benefits and the industry stands ready to deliver.”

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