Planning permission for new houses and conversions across England has fallen to a record low, new figures suggest. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) said permissions continued to fall “sharply”, with home numbers approved in first the half of 2023 down 19%. If the trend continues, housing supply for England could fall to levels not seen for a decade, it added. The government said planning permission was granted for 264,000 homes in the past year. The Conservative government’s 2019 manifesto promised to build 300,000 homes a year in England by the mid-2020s.
But in December, the government said councils would get more flexibility over meeting centrally-set housing targets. The federation said the data confirmed industry warnings that in the midst of an increasingly “anti-development” policy environment and a worsening economy, the number of homes built in the coming years could fall to record low levels.
About 2,456 housing projects were granted planning permission during the second quarter of 2023. This number was down 10% on the previous quarter, 20% on the same time a year ago, and was the lowest level since similar records began in 2006, according to the report.
The HBF said that if the trend continued it would lead to a reduction in housing delivery of 44,000 homes a year, which would see housing supply for England fall to levels not seen for a decade. Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, blamed the situation on an “increasingly anti-development and anti-business” policy environment, which he said has caused the “sharp fall in the number of homes being built”.
“The government’s capitulation to the Nimby lobby on planning, its mishandling of water legislation, and – amidst a lack of mortgage availability – the lack of support for first time buyers could see housing supply drop markedly in the coming years,” he said.
“Fewer homes being built amidst an acute housing crisis has clear social implications, in particular for young people, and will reduce economic activity and cost jobs.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities said planning permission was granted for 264,000 homes in England in the year to June, showing “good progress towards our target of building one million homes over this Parliament”. The department acknowledged the government needed to do more to speed up the planning system, “which is why our long-term plan for housing will reduce unnecessary delays and speed up new developments”.
“This is backed by £24m to scale up planning capacity and a further £13.5m for a super-squad to support large scale projects. At the same time we’re scrapping defective EU laws that are blocking 100,000 homes from being built,” they said.
Last month, the government announced EU-era water pollution restrictions for housing developments are to be scrapped in a bid to build up to 100,000 new homes by 2030. The loosening of the restrictions have been described by environmental groups as “disgraceful”.
Source: BBC News