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Applications and decisions at 10-year high

15 April 2001

There were more planning applications received by local authorities in the final quarter of 2000 than in any corresponding quarter for the past 10 years, according to the DETR.

And for those who fear the result of that can only be longer delays in receiving a decision, there is good news - the rate at which planning decisions are being reached is increasing faster than the increase in the rate at which planning applications are being made.

The 122,000 applications received represented an increase of 2% on the same quarter in 1999, while the 122,000 planning decisions reached was a 5% increase.

The only region that did not see an increase in the number of planning applications was London. The South West saw the largest increase, at 10%, while in the South East and East Midlands applications were up 7% in both cases.

These increases should be good news for construction, although consented applications do not always translate into work for the industry.

And the slowdown in London might prove to be a portend of conditions to come, as splashes in London often ripple out to the rest of the country.

In housing, a new report from researchers BDS, in Shoscombe, Bath, identifies 145 housing schemes planned in the UK that will contain more than 1,000 units each. All together, they will add 280,000 new dwellings - well over the number of housing starts normally expected in a year.

The first of the BDS reports identifying housing schemes of more than 1,000 units was published in 1999. This year\'s report shows an 8% increase in the number of dwellings proposed on such sites, although only half as many sites where more than 5,000 units are proposed.

The smaller number of mega-schemes proposed might be an indication that the Government\'s policy of diverting development from greenfield to brownfield sites is taking effect.

Most of the schemes (35%) are proposed for the South East, although this is less than in 1999 when 43% were in the South East. The South West and East Midlands have the next largest numbers of schemes proposed.

According to the DETR, housing starts were up 9% in the three months to February compared with the previous three months, but down 2% on the same period a year ago.

The really bad news from the latest DETR figures is a fall of 20% in the number of new commercial orders in the three months to February compared with the previous three months, and 9% lower than a year earlier.

These are stone\'s big projects and the fall was so severe that it offset rises in all other categories to leave the number of orders unchanged on the previous three month period and 1% lower than a year earlier.

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