However number of permissions still 17% down on last year

The number of planning permissions granted rose in the first three months of the year for the first time since the coalition government was elected, according to statistics from the Home Builders’ Federation.

However the rise in planning permissions to 37,800, up from 33,000 in the last quarter of 2010, still leaves the number of homes approved 17% lower than a year ago, and at just over half the number regularly approved during the pre-2008 boom.

In particular planning approvals for social housing units are running at just 50% of the level of a year ago. The government has slashed funding for social housing to under half the pre-election levels.

The figures come after 2010 saw the lowest number of homes built for 90 years, and come in advance of the government’s consultation on a new planning policy framework, expected by the end of June.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said: “The figures again make depressing reading as they suggest a continuing and significant undersupply of homes, adding to the already serious social and economic implications of our housing crisis.

“The government will soon consult on the most important planning proposals since World War II. The figures we have published today clearly demonstrate why it has to get its planning framework right.”