The Home Builders Federation’s latest housing pipeline report showed initial, “outline” planning permissions at the highest level since 2008.
But the number of sites “consented” – cleared for development – in the first quarter of this year fell sharply. The trade body estimates that as many as 150,000 plots could be caught in between outline and detailed planning permission.
Ministers sought to tilt the planning system towards development in 2011 by rewriting the National Planning Policy Framework.
This has had some success in speeding up initial “outline” planning permission, according to experts, but the time taken to achieve the detailed permission needed to build has grown because of budget cuts in local councils.
“When I started in this industry, in the early 1980s, you would be able to get from outline planning permission to being on site in six weeks,” says Steve Morgan, founder and chairman of builder Redrow. “Today, you’re very lucky if you can do it in 18 months.”