Planning applications fall in England, latest official figures show

Fewer planning applications are being received by councils in England despite a home building push and they are not being granted more quickly than a year ago.

The number of planning applications received by councils in England were down by 5% in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period in the previous year, official figures show.

Some 116,700 applications for planning permission were received, local authorities granted 87,900 decisions, down 2% from the same quarter in 2017, and decided 88% of major applications within 13 weeks or the agreed time, a timescale that is unchanged from a year earlier.

Of these some 11,900 residential applications were granted, down 4% on a year earlier of which 1,700 were for major developments and 10,200 for smaller housing projects, according to the figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). They also show that 2,300 applications for commercial developments were granted, down 11% on a year earlier.

They received 8,700 applications for prior approval for permitted development rights, down 6% from the same quarter of 2017. Of these, 1,300 applications were for changes to residential use, of which 900 were given the go ahead without having to go through the full planning process.

In the year ending March 2018, district level planning authorities granted 378,600 decisions, down 2%, granted 49,100 decisions on residential developments, of which 6,500 were for major developments and 42,700 were for smaller ones, both down by 2%, and granted 9,900 applications for commercial developments, down 11% year on year.

According to Mark Dyason, managing director of the property finance broker Thistle Finance, uncertainty around Brexit is clearly causing many businesses to sit on their hands rather than invest in and develop new premises.

He also believes that it is ‘unfortunate’ that applications overall are being processed at the same speed as a year ago.

Dyason said:

‘There’s an urgency in the market and in Government to build more homes but that’s clearly not feeding through into planning departments. Far too many planning departments continue to operate in a vacuum.

‘It’s slightly surprising to see the number of permitted development rights applications has fallen compared to the same quarter last year, as that’s an area where we’re seeing a huge amount of activity, especially outside the capital.

‘The residential development market outside London is more active than it has ever been, in part because of the higher returns available and in part because of the availability of finance.’


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