England’s Homebuilding Approvals Soar as Looser Rules Take Hold

The number of homes approved for construction in England surged 62 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier as government efforts to ease planning regulations took hold, the Home Builders Federation said.

Local councils granted approvals for 45,041 homes in the three months through December compared with 27,732 a year ago, the London-based industry association said today in a statement today. The total jumped 33 percent from the previous quarter.

The U.K. government passed legislation known as the National Planning Policy Framework in 2011 to help ease planning approvals by removing hundreds of pages of regulation and offering local planners financial incentives to allow the construction of new homes. The state is also helping buyers finance new-home purchases through programs that share risk between builders, lenders and the government.

“It’s a reflection that the National Planning Policy Framework has started to work.” HBF spokesman Steve Turner said by telephone. “We’re seeing the planning inspector being quite robust and award in developers’ favor. But clearly one swallow doesn’t make a summertime.”

Planning approvals in London more than doubled to 9,762 in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the most of any English region, according to the report. The number of homes approved for development nationwide last year totaled 140,555, the most since 2008 when 168,559 were permitted.

The U.K. government wants to increase the supply of homes to 240,000 a year to meet the demands of a growing population, according to its Website. In England, 115,620 homes were built last year, an increase of 1 percent, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.