Building Magazine has reported that the number of planning permissions granted in the three months to September 2011 was 10% down on the previous year. This is according to the latest figures from the Home Builders’ Federation.

The HBF is reported to have said its quarterly housing pipeline report showed that just 32,500 homes were given planning permission in the third quarter, down from 38,500 in the same period last year.

The number of units approved in the first nine months of the year is17% down on the corresponding period in 2010. The number of social housing units was 58% down on the third quarter of 2010.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, is reported to have said:

“These figures demonstrate clearly why government must stand firm and deliver a robust planning system that provides enough land to meet the nation’s housing needs.

Its recent Housing Strategy contained some very positive measures, but if they are to bear fruit, the planning system must be fit for purpose.”

The above demonstrates that more clearly defined support for sustainability along with the reduction of planning regulation should certainly be welcomed and supported in principle. As with all things though the success, or failure, of the proposed planning reforms will be in the detail.

Hopefully however the reduction in planning approvals being granted during 2011, particularly in regard to housing, should be a welcomed sign that bog standard non sustainable housing is no longer acceptable. Large and small house builders alike will need to adapt and respond; embracing the need to produce well designed sustainable houses that meet minimum space and energy performance standards. This will in turn provide the economic stimulus developers bring to the local, and consequently national economy, whilst at the same time providing much needed good quality sustainable housing.