Planning permissions up but smaller sites needed - HBF/Glenigan

20th Apr 2017

The number of new home planning permissions continues to rise, with permission for 293,127 new homes granted in 2016, according to the latest HBF Housing Pipeline survey.

This is the highest yearly total recorded since the survey, compiled by Glenigan, began in 2006, HBF said, with plot permission numbers now exceeding the pre-crash peak by around 15%.

But, while the numbers are a strong indicator of future supply, the report also shows that an increase in smaller sites is needed to help tackle the country’s housing shortage.

According to the data, the number of sites permissioned dropped 11% to 17,500 against 2015. HBF said this indicated permissions were being granted on larger “strategic” sites.  With the infrastructure requirements on larger sites, these permissions usually take longer to start being delivered.

HBF called upon local authorities to be “realistic” about the rate at which large sites can deliver and “don’t expect one large site to address their housing requirements”.

HBF also said that the average size of a permissioned site rose 16% in the past 18 months, with local authorities suffering stretched resources concentrating on larger sites. This highlighted the problems smaller housebuilders experience in finding suitable sites, it added.

“Speeding up the rate at which builders get onto sites, and ensuring local authorities abide by their responsibilities and allocate sites that meet their local housing needs are key requirements if the house building industry is to deliver much needed housing,” HBF said.

Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman, welcomed the increase in the number of planning permissions being granted, but added: “The drop in the number of sites on which the permissions are being granted on is concerning.

“As the White Paper indicates, we need to ensure that permissions are being granted on a mix of site sizes and that local authorities are not reliant on one or two large sites. A mix of site sizes will better ensure a flow of housing completions and also enable SME builders to play their part in delivering new homes.” 


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