Planning system is biggest threat to further housebuilding, says HBF

Housebuilding sites across the UK are becoming ‘stuck’ in the planning system, with an estimated 150,000 plots at ‘outline permission’ stage awaiting full sign off by local authorities.

The figures released today in the Home Builders Federation’s (HBF) latest Housing Pipeline report, show a big surge in house building activity across the UK, but says that more needs to be done to help speed up planning approvals.

Planning permissions for 43,926 new homes were granted in Q1 of this year, raising the total in the12 months to Q1 to 177,731 - with a 20% increase in units on private housing schemes.

Although the number of homes securing planning approval during the first quarter was 8% up on the level seen a year ago, the number of sites consented to dropped to 679 from 885 in Q4 2013 and 807 in the same quarter last year.

The report also shows there has been a 10% drop in social housing approvals over the past 12 months to Q1 of this year.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said: “All political parties and commentators now agree we are facing an acute housing crisis that will only be solved by building substantially more homes.

“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.

“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 150000 plots across the country in such a position.

“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.”

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