With the number of planning applications submitted in England on the way up, Jonathan Jenkin, Managing Director of Planning & Design Practice Ltd shares his thoughts.
The Planning Portal has just published its latest Market Insight Report setting out the levels of planning applications submitted via the portal and a breakdown of the types and nature of the planning submissions being made. Most planning applications are now submitted via the planning portal and the portal has registered the largest increase in application submissions for many years. With the caveat that not all planning applications are submitted via the portal and that the numbers of applications using the portal is increasing year on year it is nevertheless a welcome increase.
Covid 19 has led to much more home working and most people are spending more time at home. Foreign travel has been hit hard his year and this has led to less money being spent.
Home working requires space and for many, space is at a premium. Poor aspects of the home environment become more pressing when you have to live and work from home and the need to improve the home environment becomes more important. Unsurprisingly this has led to a 46% increase in householder applications for home extensions and home improvements. Not all extensions or alterations require planning permission or prior notification so this increase signifies a welcome uplift in general building activity.
There was an upward trend in all regions of England with the highest increases in the North West and North East of England followed by the East Midlands.
The number of full planning application submissions made through the planning portal has been below the levels submitted in 2019 through the whole of 2020 up until the end of August. However in September this trend reversed and the month saw an increase of 4%. This may reflect the recovery in market sentiment since the easing of restrictions in June and it is hoped that this will continue. However the overall number of full planning applications submitted in 2020 is still well down on 2019.
The scale of development and the reduction in larger planning applications can be seen in the Planning Portal’s figures for planning fee income for local councils. Planning fees for larger development can be substantial and overall planning fee income for council planning teams from planning application submissions is well down on 2019 although I am pleased to see a recovery in fee income in September.
Here in mid-October with the government increasing restrictions again in response to an increase in Covid cases the Government’s actions could seriously depress market sentiment and levels of activity and this may not improve until the spring of 2021. However the construction and development market can be robust and the need for development continues, driven by increases in the population of England and the need to address climate change.