The number of planning permissions granted in the year to June 2017 is the highest seen annually since the Home Builders Federation and Glenigan began their Housing Pipeline reports in 2006.
The latest Housing Pipeline report reveals that permission for 321,982 new homes was granted during the 12-month period, demonstrating the confidence of housebuilders with demand for the Help to Buy equity loan scheme continuing to drive the numbers, providing first time buyers with a step on the housing ladder, HBF said.
It added that more than 200,000 people – mostly first time buyers – now live in a new build home thanks to Help to Buy.
A separate HBF report, Stepping Up, examines the impact Help to Buy has had on the housing market. It shows that the scheme now accounts for one in 12 of all households starting on the housing ladder. Stepping Up also considers the initiative’s economic benefits to communities, with 170,000 jobs sustained through Help to Buy completions.
HBF urged the government to clarify the future of Help to Buy beyond its expiry date of 2021 to determine housebuilders’ investment decisions on land, training and supply chains.
Meanwhile, planning permissions may have hit an all-time high, but with the still-laborious planning system, HBF said it could still take three to four years to reach the stage where many of these could be built out.
There was also concern that the number of sites on which permissions were granted was continuing to drop, HBF continued. This suggested that bigger sites were being favoured. HBF called upon local authorities to allocate an increased number of smaller sites, particularly to aid smaller housebuilders and to “lead to increases in both the number of homes being built and industry capacity”.
Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman, said: “These record planning permission figures are a clear indication that housebuilders are committed to increasing housing output. We’ve seen 50% growth in output over the last three years and these figures indicate that progress can continue.
We need to see confirmation from government as to the future of the very successful Help to Buy scheme post 2021. We also need to see the proposals to improve the planning system outlined in the White Paper moved forward and implemented.”