Despite a number of changes to national policy and guidance, aimed at improving local authority performance, through the NPPF and PPG, there remain significant delays to the progress of many local plans, and the determination of planning applications. We have seen a rise in planning application fees but in many instances we have not noticed any discernible increase in staffing or speed of delivery within planning departments. In the north of the country we have seen a number of authorities reduce the housing requirements in their local plans, on the back of the Government's standard methodology, despite their economic aspirations requiring increased housing numbers. In the south we are seeing many authorities slowing down the production of their local plans because the standard methodology shows a significant increase in housing need. If the Government is to avert the housing crisis, and deliver anywhere near 300,000 homes per annum it needs to take a serious look at the planning process and utilise its intervention powers more widely.
Source: Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
Mortgage approvals remain one of the key indicators of the level of activity in the housing market. Approvals in the calendar year 2018 showed a slight decrease on the previous year.
However, seasonally adjusted figures for January 2019 to June 2019 average 66,000 approvals per month, a 3% increase on the equivalent period in 2018.
Source: Bank of England, CML
NHBC new build starts totalled 132,000 in the year to March 2019. This compares to 134,500 in the equivalent period last year, a 2% decrease.
This reduction reflects a significant decrease in new build starts in Inner London zones, as was the case in the equivalent period last year.
The overall housing market has been subdued for some time and residential property transactions of £40,000 or above fell by 3.6% compared to the same period in 2018.
There were c48,000 Help To Buy equity loan completions in the year to March 2019. This was broadly consistent with the previous year overall.