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Planning permission more likely to be approved in affluent London boroughs

London boroughs with an average house price of over £1 million are more likely to have planning permissions approved, according to research by online architectural platform Resi.co.uk.

Its analysis of planning application data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government found that planning permissions for affluent boroughs are more likely to be granted allowing homeowners to renovate or extend their home.

Other boroughs with an average house price of under £500,000, meanwhile, aren’t as fortunate. Hillingdon in West London, for example, has an average house price of £452,056 and was revealed as the borough which is least likely to grant planning permission (50%), closely followed by Barking and Dagenham (53%), which has the lowest average house price out of all London boroughs at £305,733.

Boasting an average house price of £835,061, The City of London was revealed to be the London borough where approvals are most likely to be granted (95%), followed by Southwark (92%) and Richmond (88%).

According to Resi.co.uk, these discrepancies across London boroughs could stem from councils throughout the UK having their funding cut, with more cuts expected in the future. A lack of funding could also add to the strain on council services, including planning departments. This could mean that there is less time and resource to dedicate to cases, leading to more applications getting denied.

Alex Depledge, chief executive officer and co-founder of Resi.co.uk, said that planning applications are becoming a ‘postcode lottery’.

“Councils are under a great deal of pressure, not just as a result of funding cuts, but also from nimbys looking to block developments in their own area.”

He continued: “Whilst it is common sense that a comparable house extension that is approved in one borough should generally be approved in another, this isn’t always the case.”

Depledge added that although homeowners can take steps to improve the chances of their applications being approved, more needs to be done to reform the planning application procedure. Streamlining the process will mean common house extensions can be reviewed quickly and simply, and will leave officials with more time to deal with the complex applications that require additional time.

“For homeowners about to make an application, getting advice from an architect who has experience in dealing with your council will help avoid any common mistakes and secure the desired outcome as smoothly as possible. In addition, make sure to check council websites just in case they publish any information online.”

Nick Stockley, lead designer and co-founder at Resi.co.uk, added: “The planning system feels broken in many London areas. Thanks to an imposed 8-week deadline, those councils without the resources to manage the level of planning applications coming in feel pressured to turn decisions around quickly.”

He said that while councils don’t have the time to liaise with the homeowner’s planning agent, wealthier councils are able to help their applicants make changes that ensure plans go through first time.

“It’s a self-defeating exercise, as homeowners who get rejected first time will simply come back again and again until approval is given, adding more work to a local authority unable to cope.”

“This not only slows down the development in the area, but wastes money funding this maddening process,” he finalised.

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