According to the latest Housing Pipeline report from the Home Builders Federation, the number of planning permissions granted in the year to June 2017 is the highest seen since 2006.
Permission for 321,982 new homes was granted during the 12 month period, up form 278,652 the previous year. However, the data also indicated that there has been a “slight cooling” in residential development in the second quarter of the year, with the number homes approved falling 14% from the first quarter yet the figure is still up 13% on the year before.
Demand for the help to buy scheme is continuing to boost numbers. More than 200,000 people live in new build homes thanks to help to buy. However, with the scheme supposedly coming to an end in 2021, house builders are seeking assurances as to if it will continue past this date to determine investment decisions.
Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman, was positive about the impact of the help to buy scheme. He said that ‘the help to buy scheme hasn’t just helped 200,000 people buy a home, it has helped them to build a new home which is, in turn, boosting supply and generating huge benefits for communities, councils and the Exchequer.
‘Ultimately if people can buy, builders can build and confidence in demand is crucial to future build rates. The figures show that if demand for new homes remains strong and the planning system processes applications efficiently, further increased in build rates can be delivered in the coming years.’
However, the planning system itself is still laborious, meaning that it could take 3-4 years for most of these to reach completion. Whilst housing supply is up 52% in the past three years there are still not enough homes to adequately cater for our population and the planning system remains one of the major constraints on supply. Speeding up the rate at which builders get onto sites, and ensuring Local Authorities abide by their responsibilities and allocate sites that meet their local housing needs are key requirements if the house building industry is to deliver much needed housing.
Baseley also stated that ‘These record planning permission figures are a clear indication that house builders are committed to increasing housing output. We’ve seen 50% growth in output over the last three years and these figures indicate that progress can continue. We need to see confirmation from government as to the future of the very successful Help to Buy scheme post 2021. We also need to see the proposals to improve the planning system outlined in the White Paper moved forward and implemented.’