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Oh Dear! Latest figures show planning applications in England plummet

In the first quarter of this year, the number of planning applications received by councils in England has fallen by almost 12%, compared with the same period in the previous year, new figures show.

Data obtained by the National Association of Property Buyers (NAPB) disclosed that 109,924 were received between January and March this year – an 11.7% fall from the first three months of 2021.

In the first quarter of 2022, of those received, 96,045 were decided upon which is 2.8% less than the 98,912 which were approved in 2021.


This points to the fact that planning decisions are still falling well short of the level prior to the pandemic, where applications hit a record low due to restrictions on local authorities brought on by Covid.

The figures - explained

Commenting on the figures, Jonathan Rolande, from the NAPB, said: “Fewer applications are being received and less are being decided upon. Given we are in the midst of a housing crisis which has left many unable to get a foot on the ladder, these figures are concerning.  I suspect this is a reflection of the massive hurdles which still exist to build new homes.”

“New applications to build homes must overcome enormous obstacles to obtain planning consent. The environment, travel infrastructure, schooling, utility supply, medical services, the wishes of neighbours and much more must all be taken into account. And the ongoing financial uncertainty may also be seeing many developers waiting before embarking on fresh building projects.”

But Rolande said there is a consequence to this which means, ultimately, house-hunters will be the victims of.

“The ongoing lack of property in areas where people want them has led to a bidding war with buyers asked to pay ever-increasing prices,” he said.

“The housing crisis means many house-hunters, especially younger people, have no hope of ever being able to own their own home, with the pleasure and security that brings.”

Rolande states that left to its own devices, not much looks set to change and the problem looks likely to be felt more acutely by future generations as they reach their potential property buying age. 

“There are many ways to improve the situation but in the end, supply is the issue. We need more property. It’s telling that over 50% of our entire housing stock was built before 1964.” he said.

“Victorian architects had few concerns about planning and a ready supply of land to begin their enormous home building program, the result of which is seen in every town with often the brightest, prettiest and most desirable homes having been built 140 years ago.”

“We are in a difficult situation today and things are only going to get worse. That’s why we need bold steps to sort it out and this begins with planning consent.”

“Whilst there are no easy solutions to the UK’s housing crisis, one thing’s certain, the current supply both in terms of quantity and quality isn’t meeting the needs of society. Whether buying or renting, surely people deserve better.”

Rolande concluded: “Given the implications for people all over the country, it’s time to start talking about what can be done to truly fix it - once and for all. The UK’s growing housing crisis needs to become more than just a dinner party discussion about house prices. It needs to be seen for the outrage that it really is.”

Applications received

Applications decided

Q1 2022



Q1 2021




11.7% decrease Q1 2022 v Q1 2021

2.8% decrease Q1 2022 v Q1 2021


▼ -11.78%

▼ -2.899%

Q2 2020 (lockdown 1)



Q2 2019




22.4% decrease Q2 2019 v Q1 2020

21% decrease Q2 2019 v Q1 2020


Q1 2022



Q2 2020 (lockdown 1)




24.5% increase Q2 2020v Q1 2022

17% increase Q2 2020 v Q1 2022


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