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New home approvals reach highest level since 2008

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The number of planning approvals for new homes has risen to the highest level for six years, according to figures released from the Home Builders Federation (HBF)

Planning permission for 56,647 homes was granted in England in the second quarter of 2014, with total permissions in the twelve months to 30 June standing at 197,325.

The upward trend has been attributed by a boost in private house-building, with the help-to-buy scheme credited in particular for boosting demand for new homes and increasing rates of activity.

The statistics come just weeks after the government released figures showing that the number of housing starts had ballooned by 22 per cent year on year - the largest growth in housing starts since 1976 (AJ 21.08.14).

However, despite the rise in new housing consents, the report compiled by industry tracker Glenigan for the HBF noted that the relatively low number of outlets for new homes remains a concern, with 715 new sites granted permission in Q2 compared to over 1,000 per quarter in 2007/08.

The low number of sites was an indication that big strategic schemes are responsible for the boost in planning approvals rather than small local sites.

According to the HBF, desipte the upturn in approvals too many sites are still ‘stuck’ in the planning system, with an estimated 150,000 plots at ‘outline permission’ stage awaiting full sign off by local authorities.

Speaking about the report Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF, said: ‘The increase in the overall number of new homes getting planning approval is very positive. Everyone is agreed that we need to dramatically increase house building to address our housing crisis and so getting more planning permissions is imperative.

‘The comparatively low number of actual sites getting permissions is concerning. We need to see work underway on more sites if the overall number of new homes being built is to continue to increase.

‘In addition, too many sites with outline planning permission are now stuck in the planning system awaiting final permission to start on site. We estimate there could be as many as 150,000 plots across the country in such a position.’

Allan Wilén, Glenigan’s Economics Director said: ‘The marked rise in the number of new homes securing approval has been driven by strong growth in private sector projects.

‘Strikingly approval figures have been boosted by a number of large scale redevelopment projects, such as the Earls Court scheme in London, which should provide a flow of new housing supply over the coming years. In contrast the drop in social housing projects is disappointing given the pressing need for more affordable housing.’

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