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Shortage fears as number of new homes plummets

Residential planning permissions for new homes have slumped to their second lowest level since 2006, prompting renewed fears of a massive housing shortfall

The Home Builders Federation’s (HBF) latest Housing Pipeline report released today reveals that just 25,171 residential planning permissions were granted in England in the second quarter of 2011.

The figure is a 24 per cent drop from the previous quarter, and a 23 per cent drop on the previous period 12 months ago, according to the figures compiled for the NBF by industry tracker Glenigan (read the full report here).

HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley, said: ‘These new figures paint a bleak picture. The figures clearly reveal that while the debate about planning is currently being hijacked by irresponsible scaremongering from anti-growth groups our housing crisis is set to worsen.’

‘Government must stand firm and deliver a planning system that supports home building and economic growth. If it doesn’t, the social and economic implications will be felt for generations.’

The HBF also criticised the ‘emotive and misleading claims about development on greenbelt’ in the ongoing consultation into the government’s National Planning Framework (NPPF), launched last month.

The number of housing approvals has dropped to the lowest level in two years

The Federation believes around 60,000 homes are required per quarter to meet the current housing shortfall.

James Abraham, economist at Glenigan, said: ‘Planning approvals have been on a downward trend for eighteen months, and this continued over the second quarter of 2011.

‘Although there was a pickup at the beginning of the year, the number of housing approvals has dropped to the lowest level in two years.

‘The 29,100 units approved represented a 26 per cent annual decline, and is less than half the number of houses approved on average per quarter in the years before the credit crunch.’

Cynical attempt

In response, The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has slammed the HBF’s comments.

Kate Houghton, planning officer for CPRE, said: ‘The cynical attempt by the volume house builders to blame the planning system for the drop in new builds and planning permissions over the last few years is astonishing.

‘This is not due to the effect of long standing planning regulations, but a direct result of the house building industry choosing not to build new houses that they will not be able to sell in a stagnant property market. This is highlighted by the fact that England’s major house builders are currently sat on huge landbanks, with planning permission and ready for the development of over 280,000 new homes.

‘It hardly comes as a surprise that house builders have not been applying for new housing permissions in recent months, when later this year they are expecting the arrival of the biggest free-for-all on greenfield land in a generation. If the government’s planning reforms go through unchanged, developers stand to make huge profits digging up fields rather than delivering high quality, sustainable homes by investing in and redeveloping brownfield sites in our existing towns and cities.’



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