The number of planning applications submitted to authorities dropped by 5.3 per cent in the first quarter of the financial year – the biggest fall since 2013
Figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government showed total applications submitted in England fell to 123,300 during April to June.
This was down 7,000 (5.3 per cent) on the figure for the first quarter of last year, and the largest year-on-year fall since a 6 per cent drop in the final quarter of the financial year 2012-13.
Local authority decisions (district level) and approvals both dropped by 2 per cent over the year, with the speed of decisions on major, minor and other applications all increasing.
In the commercial sector, drops were more dramatic. The figures showed 2,700 decisions were made on commercial applications, down 11 per cent from 3,067 in the same quarter last year.
However, the picture was steadier in the residential sector. Although the department did not publish the number of residential applications submitted, it said 16,285 decisions on major and minor applications were made.
This total, which does not include the number of homes in each application, was up around half a per cent on the 16,187 decisions made last year.
Figures on applications for prior approvals for office-to-residential conversions during the quarter fell from 782 in the previous year to 645 (down 18 per cent).
Meanwhile industry tracker Glenigan reported that the value of projects starting on site in the three months to August was 10 per cent lower than during the same period a year ago.
Commenting on the latest figures, Allan Wilén, Glenigan’s economics director, said: ‘The value of projects starting on site has weakened over the summer months.
’The decline is in part due to public sector projects being temporarily delayed by the snap general election, with education, health and infrastructure starts down on a year ago. However, there has also been a recent weakening in a number of private sector areas, including office and retail projects. In addition, private residential starts faltered during the three months to August after firm growth earlier this year.
‘Private residential starts slipped back 3 per cent during the three months to August and were 14 per cent down against a strong performance a year ago. The drop follows a strong rise in project starts earlier in the year and is against a backdrop of a cooling in property transactions in the wider housing market.
He added: ‘Overall non-residential projects were 12 per cent lower than a year ago but, on a seasonally adjusted basis, were 16 per cent down on the preceding three months. The health sector has seen the sharpest decline, with starts down by over a third on a year ago and against the preceding three months. There was also double-digit year-on-year declines in the education, office and retail sectors.
These declines were accompanied by a 6 per cent drop in office project starts. While industrial starts were also 12 per cent down on the previous three months, they were 11 per cent up on a year ago, a period when many industrial projects were being reviewed during the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. In contrast, hotel and leisure project starts remain ahead of a year ago.’