Outline housing consents reach 2008 levels

Out-Law News | 09 Jun 2014 | 4:53 pm | 1 min. read

The number of outline planning permissions granted for new homes in the twelve months to the end of the first quarter of 2014 was the highest since 2008, according to a report from the trade body the Home Builders Federation (HBF).

The Housing Pipeline Report (8-page / 465 KB PDF) said that 177,731 outline planning permissions were granted between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014. Many of these approvals were granted in the second half of 2013.

Compared to the strong final quarter of 2013, HBF reported that outline approvals were down in the first quarter of 2014. The report recorded a 12% fall in approvals for residential units; an 8% decline in the number of private units granted permission; a 23% drop in the number of private sector projects, and a 10% decrease in the number of social housing projects approved compared with the fourth quarter of 2013.

Compared to the first quarter of 2013, however, first quarter performance was strong in 2014. The report recorded an increase of 12% in approvals for residential units; and a 20% rise in approvals for residential units compared with the first quarter of 2013. While the number of private sector projects was 12% lower in the first quarter of 2014 than the same period in 2013, this was attributed in the report to several very large schemes providing over 1,000 units each.

In a statement accompanying the report, HBF attributed the large number of outline consents to the effect of the Government's Help to Buy equity loan scheme on housing demand. However, HBF called for an increase in the speed at which outline permissions receive full approval, estimating 150,000 to be awaiting full planning permission.

"All political parties and commentators now agree we are facing an acute housing crisis that will only be solved by building substantially more homes", said Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of HBF, in a statement. “The Help to Buy equity loan scheme has led to a big increase in sales of new homes and the industry has responded and significantly increased output.   

“Existing sites are being built out quicker and we now desperately need new sites to come on stream if we are to see increases in house building sustained. All builders are now identifying the planning system as the biggest threat to further increases in supply", said Baseley.

“Too many sites with outline planning permission are now stuck in the planning system awaiting final permission to start on site. We estimate there could be as many as 150,000 plots across the country in such a position," continued Baseley. 

“Everyone wants to see house building levels increase and Government should act now to speed up the planning process. It should ensure local authorities have adequately resourced planning departments that can cope with the new level of demand so they can meet their housing and planning obligations", said Baseley.