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Sharp rise in new housing approvals in London

More than two-thirds of planning applications for the construction of new homes in London were approved during the second quarter of the year, new figures reveal.

Data from the latest London New Homes Monitor from Stirling Ackroyd, released today, shows that 6,310 new homes were approved in Q2 out of a possible 8,280 new homes that could have been permitted across the quarter – 76% approval rate.

The volume of homes given the go-ahead in Q2 marks a 46% increase compared with the 4,300 new residential units given consent in the previous quarter.

Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd, commented: “London has had a tough time lately, as Brexit injected a dose of uncertainty into the property market. In spite of this, the number of new home approvals improved in the run up to the result. There may still be an impact to come but for now, this pick-up is a sign that London’s property market is resilient. It’s a new game of unknowns – and London could emerge a winner.”

Westminster proved the most proactive London borough – approving 1,720 new homes. Overall, the inner borough allowed 99% of all new home applications it received, the highest rate in Greater London.

In contrast, Newham recorded the lowest approval rate across the capital, rejecting 92% of potential new homes applications.

Bridges continued: “Westminster is soaring ahead in terms of approvals and applications, but these are unlikely to be affordable for the typical Londoner. Many in the capital are left feeling let down as affordability drives them further away from a home of their own.

“A new Housing Minister means new rules though – and London could be set for a shake-up. The revival of a Minister for London could bring some reassurance to developers, and buyers, who are hoping for a pro-building government under Theresa May. Realistically, however, it’s more likely to be business as usual.”

The quarter-on-quarter improvement in approval rates in Q2 trails behind the levels seen in Q2 2015.

The second quarter of last year saw 8,063 new homes, out of a possible 10,662, granted permission. By contrast, both decisions and approvals fell year-on-year with just 6,311 allowed in Q2 2016.

Bridges added: “We keep on hearing negativity when it comes to housing in London: not enough space, not enough money, too much nimbyism. In fact, there’s plenty of room and sufficient progress isn’t being made on a yearly basis. Our research suggests space for up to 570,000 across the next ten years. Sadiq Khan may be keen to protect Green Belt sites but good development is possible there too, and we need to think the politically unthinkable to solve the housing crisis.

“There’s a clear and difficult road ahead to solve London’s housing deficit. A big challenge is how to ensure the government’s promise of 1 million new homes and Sadiq Khan’s promises of over 50,000 in London, are delivered now Brexit is a reality. A more efficient planning system is the place to start. Crucially, planning reforms are still on the government agenda for now – and they need to stay there.

“Overall, more resources and time need to be committed to achieve the number of new homes London needs. Having a new home can transform lives and London has always been an aspirational city.”

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