Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Planning data casts doubt on building reforms

Figures showing house builders have planning permission for more than 400,000 homes have cast doubt on government attempts to revive development.

The Local Government Association has published the data, which shows work hasn’t even started on around half of the approved homes.

At the current rate of construction it would take developers three-and-a-quarter years to clear the backlog by building all of the new homes local authorities have signed off.

Prime minister David Cameron yesterday announced a range of measures to boost house building and get ‘the planners off our backs’.

These include speeding up planning applications and allowing the Planning Inspectorate to rule on applications if a local authority ‘has a track record of consistently poor performance’.

From early 2013 the inspectorate will also be able to reduce section 106 requirements to build affordable homes on sites where the agreements are deemed to be making developments unviable.

The LGA denied the planning system is the cause of the current slump in house building.

Sir Merrick Cockell, chair of the LGA, said: ‘These figures conclusively prove that local authorities are overwhelmingly saying “yes” to new development and should finally lay to rest the myth that the lack of new homes being built is the fault of the planning system.

‘Even if planning departments did not receive another new home application for the next three years, there are sufficient approved developments ready to go to last until 2016 at the current rate of construction.’

Some commentators also questioned whether planning reforms will deliver the required boost for house building.

Jon Neale, director of residential research at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: ‘There is also no doubt that, in some instances, heavy affordable housing requirements are holding back development. However, while this is an issue on some sites, I would question the extent to which it is preventing much higher levels of new build activity.’

House builders were more positive about the announcements.

Stephen Teagle, managing director of the affordable housing division at Galliford Try, said: ‘Taken as a whole this is a positive mix of supply-side and demand-side measures aimed at stimulating housing starts, building capacity and unblocking some of the barriers.’

The Home Builders Federation said the ‘tweaks’ to the planning system should allow more homes to be built.

It added: ‘The announcement that poorly performing local authorities will have decisions on housing taken away from them is particularly welcome.’

Readers' comments (20)

Comments are only open to subscribers of Inside Housing

Already a subscriber?

If you’re already a subscriber to Inside Housing, your subscription may not be linked to your online account. You can link your subscription from within the My Account section of the website and clicking on Link My Account.

Not yet a subscriber?

If you don't yet subscribe to Inside Housing, please visit our subscription page to view our various subscription packages.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register


Newsletter Sign-up



  • Councils' Local Plan targets cast doubt on key White Paper measure

    9 February 2017

    More than half of councils currently set Local Plan targets below assessed need, casting doubt on the government’s plan to tackle town halls “ducking” housing responsibility.

  • Housing minister casts doubt over higher value levy date

    8 November 2016

    Housing minister Gavin Barwell has admitted councils need “plenty of time” to prepare for the higher value asset levy, raisings doubt over whether it will be introduced from April next year as expected.

  • NHF crowdfunds Pay to Stay data tool

    19 August 2016

    The National Housing Federation (NHF) has called on members to help crowdfund £70,000 for a data project estimating tenants’ incomes ahead of the voluntary introduction of Pay to Stay.

  • RTPI: Planning reforms are hampering housebuilding

    16 August 2016

    More than half of planners surveyed by the Royal Town Planning Institute believe planning reforms have hindered the building of new homes.

  • First nationwide data on shared ownership revealed

    23 June 2016

    The first nationwide data on shared ownership, released exclusively to Inside Housing , reveals households earning as little as £16,341 are able to purchase homes, but repossessions and rent arrears are above the private market average.

IH Subscription