The Government finally published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) at the end of July, after nearly three years of consultation. There are a number of measures within it that should speed up the delivery of housing across the country, including a standard methodology for calculating housing need, a new housing delivery test, and requirements on councils to meet their housing needs, to produce local plans and keep them up to date. In addition, regulations come into force at the beginning of October that provides planning permission for the development of land may not be granted subject to a pre-commencement condition without the written agreement of the applicant to the terms of the condition. This should help to reduce the number of unnecessary conditions being imposed on planning permissions enabling developers to get on site and deliver housing more quickly.
The number of applications granted in 2018 was down 2% on the previous year. This was disappointing given the need for new homes and reverses the gently increasing trend seen over the past few years.
Source: Department for Communities and Local Government - District Level applications
Mortgage approvals remain one of the key indicators of the level of activity in the housing market. Approvals in the calendar year 2017 were broadly in line with 2016.
Even with the base rate increases in November 2017 and August 2018, mortgage rates remain at near historically low levels.
Seasonally adjusted figures for January 2018 to June 2018 average 64,000 approvals per month, a 3% reduction on the equivalent period in 2017.
Source: Bank of England, CML
NHBC new build starts totalled 134,500 in the year to March 2018. This compares to 140,100 in the equivalent period last year, a 4% decrease.
This reduction primarily reflects a significant decrease in new build starts in Inner London zones.
Residential transactions in England and Wales fell by c2% in the 2017 calendar year compared to 2016 but with still c1.1 million residential property transactions of £40,000 or above completed during 2017. This reflected a weak secondary market.
There were c48,000 Help To Buy equity loan completions in the year to March 2018. This was a 21% increase on the prior year to March 2017 (39,800).