Major applications permitted in 2022 fell by more than 8% according to official data

Labour has accused the government of presiding over a “collapse” in housebuilding rates after the latest statistics showed that the number of residential planning permission granted had fallen to it lowest level for a decade.

Official planning statistics for the fourth quarter of 2022 showed that the total for both major and minor permissions granted in the 2022 calendar year had hit the lowest on record, with the data series beginning in 2012.

In addition, the figures showed the proportion of major decisions being approved slipping below 80% for the first time for almost eight years, with just 79% of major applications – those of more than 10 homes – permitted.

The drop in permissions for 2022 as a whole, which was matched by a drop in decisions, came despite the fact there was an uptick in decisions and permissions in the final quarter – just not enough to offset the drop from the previous quarter lost.

housing and planning

The figures show that 4,401 applications granted permission were made in 2022, down 8.4% on the 4,802 recorded in 2021.

The figure from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities also showed that 5,470 major residential decisions were made in the year, down 6.6%.

Likewise, the data showed that 31,164 minor residential permissions were granted in 2022, a fall of 7.6% on 2021.

The government said the figures equated to permissions for 287,000 homes being granted in the calendar year, a 9% drop on the 315,000 permitted in 2021.

The numbers also showed that just 66% of major applications were decided within the 13 week statutory timeframe for local authorities to make decisions in the last quarter of last year, a drop of one percentage point on the previous quarter. While the figure is actually an improvement on the number recorded in the same quarter in 2021, it is well below the figure typically seen prior to 2020, when well over 70% of applications were decided on time.

Labour shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook said on Twitter that the numbers were “Yet more evidence that the Tories have set in train a collapse in housebuilding across England.”

He added: “Their choices will deepen the housing crisis and damage economic growth. Labour are now the only party serious about boosting the supply of new homes.”

The numbers come amid increasing concern in the industry around both a resourcing crisis in local authority planning departments affecting the ability of officers to process applications, and government planning reforms affecting the ability to secure permissions.

However, the figures also came as housing secretary Michael Gove said he was “determined” to bring about change in the current “broken” housing market, including by increasing the “supply [of homes] we so desperately need.”


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Michael Gove said he was ‘determined’ to bring about change in the housing market

Gove made the comments in a forward to a publication of essays on housing collated by centre right think tank Bright Blue, who’s founder Ryan Shorthouse has recently been critical of government policy on housing. Gove said in the foreward that “we desperately need more homes to bring ownership within reach of many more people.”

Referencing the government planning reforms and the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, Gove added: “That the current housing model – from supply to standards and the mortgage market – is broken, we can all agree. That change is necessary is undeniable.

“We are bringing about change, and we are determined to see it through.”

>> Also read: Gove’s retreat into nimbyism spells political trouble for the Tories

Ryan Shorthouse said the government, which he pointed out had been in power for 13 years, needed to make affordable and appropriate housing accessible to younger generations and those on modest incomes.

“There is no silver bullet to fix the housing crisis. But, without bold and urgent steps, the housing situation in this country is only set to get worse, to the detriment of the national interest and the very survival of the centre-right. We need new, radical solutions now.”

Previously, Shorthouse has accused the government of “failing millennials” during its time in power by leaving them with “punishing housing and childcare costs – combined with stagnant wages”.