‘The Government needs to take urgent action to significantly increase the number of housing developments being granted planning permission if it wants to hit its targets’ says new research by leading planning consultancy Lichfield’s.
In the Taking Stock: The geography of housing need, permissions and completions report released earlier this week, explores the existing pipeline of sites and analyses what might be needed to meet the Government’s ambitions for 300,000 additional homes per year across England.
The report dismisses the Local Government Association’s (LGA) recent claims that the level of unimplemented consents at 1.1million highlights that developers are ‘land banking’, pointing out that due to a variety of factors such as the acquisition of the land, discharge of planning conditions, re-planning to reflect demand and lapse rates, that the number of consents required is, in fact, a minimum of 1.7 million.
The research, commissioned jointly by the Land Promoters and Developers Federation (LPDF) and the Home Builders Federation (HBF), states: “Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) records the annual rate of permissions at 300,000 to 400,000 in recent years, and this has generated the suggestion there are sites with planning permissions where landowners and developers are deliberately not bringing them forward. This is not the conclusion that should be drawn.
Commenting on the report, Paul Brocklehurst (pictured right), Chairman of the LPDF, said: “This research highlights what we in the industry have realised for some time now, which is that the level of planning consents is not sufficient, especially in certain areas of England, to meet the demand for new homes.
“The coarse analysis undertaken by the LGA is shown to be overly simplistic and ignorant of the practicalities of the implementation of planning consents granted. Post-pandemic the demand for new homes has been exceptionally strong, and as a consequence, action is required now to improve the flow of planning permissions in many parts of the country to ensure that the housing crisis does not deepen further.”
The extensive report seeks to understand how the number of homes with planning permission relates to housing need, planning permissions and completions at a regional and housing market level.
As outlined in the research: “To deliver 300,000 homes a year, 1.5m homes need to be built over a five-year period. In accordance with the NPPF requirement for local authorities to maintain a rolling five-year housing land supply, the number of homes with planning permission at any one time will need to be aligned with this objective, which means figures in excess of 1 million should be expected.
“In reality, the number of homes with planning permission will need to exceed the size of the pipeline, because some permissions will be delayed, re-planned or lapse, and some will deliver homes beyond a five-year horizon,”.
One of the key findings from the research shows that in order to achieve the Government ambition for 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, an increase of between 104,000 and 115,000 permissions per year is required in the next two/three years.
Andrew Whitaker (pictured right), Planning Director at the HBF said: “The report clearly demonstrates that we are not currently granting anywhere near enough planning permissions to meet the Governments housing target. It also shows that for such a key Government objective, the way housing permissions are monitored is wholly unsatisfactory and does not provide a basis to make reasoned policy decisions.
“The contrast between this research and the recent statements by the LGA that there are enough extant planning permissions to meet the governments housing target of 300,000 dwellings per year clearly demonstrates a need for more robust data monitoring. Local planning authorities should be under an obligation to prepare more transparent data that reflects what is actually happening and avoids double counting of replanned schemes and lapsed consents.
“The results of the housing delivery test published by the Government in January showed that, far from being complacent, local authorities should work more closely with developers to understand the detail of their housing pipeline of planning permissions. Without this robust assessment in place we will continue to fail to deliver the houses the country so desperately needs.”