Arthur looks at planning applications in the UK and how improvements might help reach home building targets.
It’s already that time of the year again when the leaves go brown, we see Christmas trees before Halloween masks, and the return of the trench coat. September also brings an opportunity for Arthur to analyse the targets of Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, and the importance of reforming the way we process planning applications.
In September 2015 Brandon Lewis launched the UK Government’s plan to build 1 million homes by 2020 in order to deal with the nations housing crisis. The UK has long struggled with an ongoing housing shortage, most recently between 2011-2015, whereby only 47% of new homes required in England were actually built.
The inability to reach the Government’s target is often pinned on the inefficiencies of the planning application process. Andrew Bridges, managing director of London based estate agents Stirling Ackroyd, described the application process as ‘sluggish’ and highlighted the fact that further action is required to tackle the planning application issue so that building targets can be reached in the future.
The process of submitting planning applications has, over the last decade, experienced considerable reforms. These reforms have tried to accelerate the process in order to meet the nation’s housing requirements.
The Planning Inspectorate, the body in charge of planning applications and appeals in England and Wales, has halved the time taken to respond to planning and householder appeals, from an average time of 19 weeks in 2008/2009, to 8 weeks in 2010/2011. In doing so, the application process is far more efficient and productive, ensuring any queries with planning applications are dealt with as quickly as possible. To some extent, this is responsible for the 6% rise in granted planning applications. It is these sorts of reforms that have the potential to make the million mark attainable.
What is evident is that the number of granted applications in the UK is on an upward trend. This is advantageous to all stakeholders, none more so than the nation’s economy. The pressing question is whether or not it’s enough?
What next for planning applications?
Although the right steps are being taken, more must be done maintain and accelerate the number of successful planning applications. Councils are granting fewer applications than a decade ago, and within certain areas only a quarter of major developments have been given the green light. The latter is a major concern.
One potential reason for this is the UK councils’ inclusion of local communities throughout the consultation process, particularly in the case of larger developments. This is a crucial part of any development process. However, under the context of Brandon Lewis’ housing target, more support in favour of the sector must be granted by the government and local councils in order amend the successive failures that have caused the UK’s current housing crisis.
The more planning applications that are granted, the closer we are to the 1 million target. Reaching this target would boost the manufacturing sector, the property market, stakeholders and most importantly, the UK’s economy.