The volume of new properties being built in England is rising, but builders have expressed concerns that they are being held up by planning conditions. This issue is more prominent on smaller development sites.
Data from the latest housing pipeline report from the Home Builders Federation and Glenigan reveals that permissions for 76,242 homes were given approval during Q3 of 2016.
In addition, the figures show that the total number of homes built to September of last year hit 289,011. With this said, the number of actual sites these permissions are on dropped.
Reports indicate that local authorities are giving permissions for an increasing number of large strategic sites. This is opposed to a mix of both size of type required to actually deliver more properties.
This is encouraging, but there are concerns that these permissions have lots of ‘pre commencement’ conditions attributed to them. As such, builders are not legally entitled to start construction until they are met-a process that can take months.
The Home Builders Federation has welcomed the Government’s Neighbourhood Planning Bill, aimed at introducing a new process for agreeing pre commencement conditions. In addition, it has encouraged ministers to push further in limiting the number of conditions to help builders develop sites more quickly.
Are councils holding up house building supply?
Moving forwards, the Federation has proposed that a range of site sizes and types should be allocated by local authorities. It believes that councils shouldn’t rely on one large site to meet their local housing requirements as it inevitable they will take longer.
In addition, the report notes that speeding up the time taken for builders to get onto sites and ensuring local authorities abide by the rules are key if more housing is to be delivered.
Stewart Baseley, chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: ‘The house building industry is committed to building more homes but can only do so if it has the land on which to build them. It is encouraging that so many headline planning permissions are being granted but we simply have to find a way to unblock the system and reduce the time it takes to get a permission to the stage where builders can actually start building.’
‘Construction work shouldn’t be held up by council officers getting round to approving designs for landscaping, playgrounds or ensuring developers are liaising with community artists. These could be agreed whilst infrastructure work gets started. Our housing crisis is too serious a threat to our future for everyone not to be pulling in the same direction. House builders are keen to increase output further but all parties need to work together if we are going to solve our housing shortage,’ Baseley added.