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Permissions for new homes back to 2008 levels

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Planning permission for new homes in England has passed the 200,000 mark in the past year – the first time since early 2008

According to figures relating to schemes with more than 10 units released by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and industry tracker Glenigan, 52,167 homes were granted outline permission in England during the first quarter of the year.

This shows a 19 per cent increase on the corresponding quarter from a year ago, and pushes the moving annual total above 200,000.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said: ‘Since the Help to Buy scheme was introduced in 2013 house building activity has increased strongly.’

Last year, a report by homelessness charity Shelter estimated that England needs 250,000 homes a year to meet housing need.

However, a spokesman for the HBF said that not all of the permissions will necessarily translate into completions.

‘A lot will be waiting on the discharge of conditions – we did some research showing there could be 185,000 plots stuck in the system at any particular point,’ he said.

And despite the rise in permissions, Baseley claimed that ‘one of the biggest constraints on the industry’s ability to meet the new level of demand and deliver further sustained increases in build rates is the planning process.’

He welcomed measures in the Government’s Productivity Plan, unveiled last week, to force local authorities to produce local plans or face central intervention.

But he called on the details to be worked up and implemented as soon as possible.

Glenigan’s Economics Director, Allan Wilén said, “Planning approvals remained firm during the first quarter, as private sector developers bring forward more and larger sites than a year ago. Glenigan expect the strengthening development pipeline to feed through to a rise in project starts during the second half of the year.”

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