Property News > Urgent need for planning reform revealed by latest construction figures, say builders

Urgent need for planning reform revealed by latest construction figures, say builders

It is claimed that inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the current housing planning procedure is hampering builders, with small and medium sized firms most at risk.


There were fewer planning applications submitted in the year ending June 2018 compared to June 2017, as shown by the latest official Construction Index.


The index also indicates that the planning system is now working less efficiently, with fewer applications processed within the statutory 13 week period. Major residential planning applications declined by 2%, while minor applications declined by 3%, and commercial applications by 11%.


A minor application is submitted for developments comprising of fewer than 10 homes, with a total floor space of 1000 square metres or fewer.


The data also highlights that minor residential applications are subject to extension of time requests, environmental impact assessments, or performance agreements on 42% of occasions, while this is the case 75% of the time for major applications.


The Housing Builders Association (HBA), part of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) argue that these figures prove that a reform of the planning process is urgently required.


They claim that those most at risk operate at a small to medium level, as the cost and delay prevent them from securing a pipeline of work in many cases.


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


Meanwhile, there were five outstanding applications, with just one site reaching a planning conclusion within the 13 week period. The two largest sites, both planning fewer than 80 homes, took between 120 and 180 weeks before a decision was made.


‘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,’ said Richard Beresford, chief executive of the HBA.

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