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The number of new home planning permissions granted in England in the first quarter of 2015 was 52,167, 19% up on the same period last year (43,926), according to figures released recently by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and Glenigan in their Housing Pipeline Report. This means that the Moving Annual Total has exceeded 200,000 for the first time since early in 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 welcomed by many. Since the introduction of the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme in 2013, housing output has increased significantly. However, the HBF maintains that the planning process remains a significant constraint on the industry’s ability to meet the higher levels of demand and deliver further increases in supply.
The Government recently announced measures in its Productivity Plan (and in the recent Witten Ministerial Statement on planning) that aim to help speed up the planning process and deliver further increases in the number of permissions being granted.
Speaking at the launch of the Report, Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF, said;
“Since the Help to Buy scheme was introduced in 2013 house building activity has increased strongly. Private housing starts in 2014 were up nearly 40% on their pre-Help to Buy level in 2012. However we are still only building around half the number of new homes the country needs, and far fewer than in previous decades.
“One of the biggest constraints on the industry’s ability to meet the new level of demand and deliver further sustained increases in build rates is the planning process. How quickly we get more sites to the point where we can actually start to lay bricks will be a major influence on future house building levels.
“The headline announcements made in the Productivity Plan sound very positive. What is key is that the detail is now developed and the proposals implemented as soon as is possible.
“Increasing housing delivery will provide the high quality homes our next generation needs, support thousands of companies up and down the land and create tens of thousands of jobs.”
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