Planning permissions for new homes are at a near record low according to a new report by the Home Builders Federation that gives the first full and accurate picture of planning across the country.
The New Housing Pipeline report shows that planning approvals for new homes in Q3 of 2010 have dropped dramatically from 2007/8 level.
The current level is one of the lowest in the last five years and the second lowest of the past 19 quarters.
HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley said the implications of the report’s findings were stark.
“Permissions, the lifeblood of housing supply, have plummeted. We already have an acute housing crisis and these figures show there is potential for it to get much worse.”
Stewart Basely, HBF
He said: “The report paints a bleak picture and shows how permissions, the lifeblood of housing supply, have plummeted. We already have an acute housing crisis and these figures show there is potential for it to get much worse. The social and economic implications of this would be a disaster for the country.
“The government cannot afford to let confusion over planning policy reduce further the number of permissions given. Whilst the policy vacuum of the past few months is now being filled, it is vital government gets on and implements its new policies. It must ensure local authorities accept responsibility and the power they have been given. It is crucial councils recognise the housing shortage, understand the new system and appreciate the government’s incentives and allow developers to build the homes their residents and the country desperately need.”
The report, compiled by Glenigan for HBF, is the first of what will be quarterly monitoring.
It shows that through 2010 there was a steady fall in permissions granted to developers for new homes, with a drop in England from over 40,000 in Q1 to just over 30,000 in Q3.
This drop coincides with radical changes to the planning system by the new government, and a shift from the old top down targets to a new localism based approach that hands more power to local authorities.
According to the HBF, the findings suggest the housing crisis could be set to deepen as planning permissions typically take three years to build.
One source at a major housebuilder said the findings were a damning indictment.
“This is a wakeup call for the government. There seems to be a presumption in some of the things ministers say that purely by the changes they have made its going to lead to an up lift in the number of homes being built.
“The fact of the matter is that numbers are going nowhere fast so I think they need to apply themselves to the issue on the ground before they start thinking about implementing localism.”
Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister Alison Seabeck said: “The Tory-led government came into power with bold promises to increase the levels of housing supply. Since then their approach has ranged from the ill-thought through to the unlawful.
“By slashing the housing budget for new homes in half and tearing up regional housing plans they’ve created a dangerous vacuum, and with only the prospect of a slow and bureaucratic ‘New Homes Bonus’ on the horizon, the government is failing to address this country’s housing needs and aspirations.”
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