New Homes Stall In Face Of Looming London Elections

News at Stirling Ackroyd | 05/05/2016

As London braces for mayoral elections, approvals for new homes dropped by 64% from the same point a year ago, as just 4,320 homes across the capital were granted permission in Q1 2016, according to the latest London New Homes Monitor from Stirling Ackroyd.

  • London boroughs approve just 4,320 new homes in Q1 2016 –  a huge 64% pre-election drop from Q1 2015
  • 4 in 10 new homes are rejected in Q1 2016 – the highest rate for a year – as permissions for new builds stall
  • Westminster grants the most new homes in Q1 2016 (626), but Southwark is most lenient, allowing 97%
  • Richmond once again proves least proactive council, granting just 11 new homes across the whole of Q1

On an annualised basis this would result in a total of 17,290 new homes granted approval by London’s planning authorities per year – well behind the estimated 50,000 Stirling Ackroyd have calculated are needed per year to house London’s growing population.

By comparison, in Q1 2015, planning departments gave permission for 11,870 new homes across London, or an annualised rate of 47,460.

Not only are planning approvals down across the final full quarter before the mayoral election, the number of applications from developers also fell, particularly on an annual basis. Q1 2016 saw planning applications for a potential 7,050 new homes, significantly behind the 14,400 potential new homes possible in Q1 2015.


Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd, comments: “It’s a sluggish and disappointing start to 2016, which should be a year of real progress. In an election year, the most frustrating side to the slow pace of planning departments is that London has the drive, capacity and ability to take control of its housing problems. Londoners want change. And if you believe all the mayoral candidates’ speeches – everyone wants a positive outcome too.

“But change isn’t happening. The number of homes are falling to new lows, contributing to a completely unfair and immoral housing shortfall. On the streets of the capital, homes are the top concern – and yet this isn’t being heard. Housing is politically fashionable – but sadly not politically practical. As the Chancellor demonstrated in the Budget last month, housebuilding can slide down the agenda quickly. It’s imperative this slide doesn’t happen this summer after the new Mayor takes office in City Hall. There’s no easy fix, and building alone isn’t sufficient to get people on the homeownership ladder. But enough new homes are a necessary starting point that is still so far away from reality.

“More homes bring more options. For those locked out of London every small improvement helps. But planning is the blockage. Unless all planning officials embrace a pragmatic approach to divvying up London’s space – the housing deficit will only worsen.”

Read the whole report here.