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Planning statistics demonstrate we need planning reform

We can’t solve the housing crisis without planning reform.

The Construction Index reports that there were fewer planning applications made in the year ending June 2018 compared to June 2017.

Statistics released by the Ministry for Housing and Local Government showed a decline of 2% in major residential planning applications, 3% in minor ones and 11% in commercial applications. Efficiency in the planning system has also decreased, with fewer applications decided within the statutory 13 week period.

Minor applications are developments of fewer than 10 homes, under a total floor space of 1000 square metres, or under half a hectare in site size.

Statistics also show that 42% of minor residential planning applications and 75% of major are subject to extension of time requests, environmental impact assessments or performance agreements.

The Housing Builders Association (HBA), the house building division of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), has previously highlighted this concern to show why planning reform is desperately needed.

Small and medium sized (SME) house builders are most at risk when planning is inefficient because inconsistency, cost and delay mean they are unable to secure a pipeline of work.

A member in East Anglia submitted their planning application statistics for 2014-2017 which showed that of the 13 sites undergoing application, 8 had been successful with an average determination period of 34 weeks.

Five applications were outstanding, with the two largest sites, both with fewer than 80 homes, taking more than 120 and 180 weeks for determination. Only one site was determined within the statutory 13 week period.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the HBA said: “Reforms to encourage more robust plan making are welcome but reform of the planning process itself remains paramount. While planning remains inconsistent, expensive and risk driven, we will not be able to diversify the market and encourage new players to help solve the housing crisis.

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