A new report, by leading planning consultancy Lichfields, looking into how permissions translate into the delivery of homes has been released.
Lichfields was commissioned by the Land Promoters and Developers Federation (LPDF) and the Home Builders Federation (HBF) to undertake research into how the pipeline of sites for housing development compares with what might be needed to meet the government’s ambitions for 300,000 net additional homes per annum across England.
The report – Tracking Progress, the second stage of Lichfields’ research – provides a ‘deep dive’ review of monitoring data to establish what happened to the planning permissions granted in a single base year across five case study local planning authorities (LPAs) over a five-year period.
Central Bedfordshire, London Borough of Wandsworth, Cheshire East, Colchester, and Stratford-on-Avon LPAs were chosen to provide a geographical spread and mix of types of authority area.
The report states: “None of our analysis suggests (at least outside of London) any systemic failure in converting planning permissions to development by the industry.
“The planning and development process is complicated and with risk, the mismatch between planning permissions granted and housing output on a yearly basis is readily explained by the simple matter of the time it takes to progress development through the regulatory stages, the risks associated with small site delivery (and by smaller builders), the overall phasing of build-out on larger sites, and the role of the planning system (via new planning permissions) in facilitating changes to planned development schemes to reflect practical requirements.”
Paul Brocklehurst, Chairman of the LPDF, said: “This research highlights the gross over-simplification in the analysis by the Local Government Association frequently quoted in the national press and by many politicians regarding the ‘stock’ of unimplemented consents. Building on Lichfields initial Taking Stock report this latest analysis further highlights the desperate need for there to be an increase in planning consents in the short term if we are to achieve the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes per annum.
“The Government’s Planning White Paper process has exacerbated the impact of the pandemic on the operation of the planning system causing many LPAs to pause, delay and abandon their Local Plan process. This, combined with the pressures on LPA planning resources, has led to signs that planning consents for new sites suitable for all housebuilders to build on may be declining. Urgent action is needed to ensure that the housebuilding industry, on top of the labour and supply chain challenges that they face, is not confronted in the near term with an inability to restock its land.
“We fully appreciate that the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will want to carefully review the responses to last year’s Planning White Paper proposals before making critical policy decisions. However, we would call on Government to clarify the changes they propose to make to the current planning system quickly, so that local authorities can return to producing their Local Plans, land can be allocated for much needed housing and the development industry can continue to deliver on the Government’s 300,000 per year new homes target. Provided both LPAs and the private sector can respond positively, we are convinced that confidence in the planning system can be restored.”
Andrew Whitaker, Planning Director at the HBF said: “This myth that house builders land bank has been dismissed by a growing number of independent reviews. As this latest research demonstrates, aggregating numbers of outstanding planning permissions misses the ‘story’ behind each and every site that comes forward for development.”
The report is available here: https://lichfields.uk/content/insights/tracking-progress