Help To Buy behind recent increase in new home consents

There has been a dramatic rise in planning permissions for new homes across England in another indicator that the housing market is strengthening.

Figures from the House Builders’ Federation show that planning permission was granted for 52,534 new homes in the final quarter of last year, the highest quarterly total since the first quarter of 2008, after which housebuilders reined in because of the downturn.

In detail the figures show:

– Q4 permissions were up 19 per cent on the previous quarter;

– full-year 2013 permissions were up 24 per cent on 2012 and 51 per cent on 2011;

– 885 sites were granted approval, the highest quarterly total since Q1 2008;

– 51 per cent more permissions were granted in 2013 than at the ‘trough’ in 2011.

But the HBF admits that much of this recent surge is down confidence based on the success of Help To Buy, and the organisation strikes a warning note to the government.

The HBF says Help To Buy is delivering 2,500 reservations a month but “its success demonstrates clearly why Government needs to start planning now to ensure it phases out the scheme is a way that is sensitive to the prevailing economic climate, doesn’t damage the market and threaten momentum” says a federation spokesman.

The government plans to end Help To Buy in April 2016.