Planning permissions fall to record low

Planning permissions continue to nosedive, with nutrient neutrality reportedly blocking the delivery of more than 145,000 new homes, according to newly released figures from HBF.

Related topics:  Construction,  Planning
Property | Reporter
3rd July 2023
Construction 711

HBF's latest report on housing pipelines covering Q1 2023, shows that permissions for housing projects currently stand at 3,037 projects - 20% down on the previous year and 11% lower than Q4 2022.

HBF also revealed that the number of units approved during Q1 2023 dropped 24% against Q1 2022 and was 17% down on Q4 2022. England saw its lowest Q1 figure for the number of new homes approved since 2014, with the most significant drop in permissions recorded for affordable housing-led schemes and small sites - 41% down for the former against Q1 2022 and the latter experiencing its lowest number of approvals since the dataset commenced.

Nutrient neutrality issues persist

HBF estimates that more than 145,000 new build homes are being stalled by Natural England’s “disproportionate” interventions. Natural England had admitted, HBF pointed out, that the nutrient risk from new homes was “very small”. Government research, published in May, found that agricultural run-off and the failure of water companies to maintain their infrastructure were the “overwhelming causes” of the issue.

HBF said that all existing development – including residential and commercial - was estimated to contribute less than 5% towards the phosphate and nitrate deposits.

To achieve planning permission on the 145,000 stalled homes using Natural England’s recommended mitigation method 30,147 acres of farmland would need to be taken out of operation equating to more than 17,000 football pitches.

HBF warned that if unaddressed, the government’s anti-development approach to planning and nutrient neutrality could halve housing supply to around 120,000 homes a year and urges for immediate action.

Since the government announced its controversial revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which HBF said would weaken planning rules, 58 local authorities have withdrawn or halted local plans.

Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman, said: “Despite facing an acute housing crisis, the government’s policy approach continues to drive housing supply down. There is now clear evidence that planning permissions are plummeting, a direct result of the Government's capitulation to the NIMBY lobby on planning.

“Over the last four years, ministers have failed to intervene on Natural England’s disproportionate ban on new homes, which disregards the findings of the government’s own evidence and represents a major misdirection of effort and resources.

“Whilst ministers prevaricate, housing supply is tumbling and the consequences are becoming ever clearer for young people in need of decent housing and builders’ jobs.”

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