Planning applications begin to rise as lockdown eases

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Planning application, Planning Portal Market Insight Report

As lockdown eases and furloughed staff return to work, planning application submissions have begun to rise again, a new report has shown

Figures for May revealed that planning submissions were only 14% below expected levels.

Full planning applications, usually larger schemes or changes of use, worsened slightly, down 24% on expected seasonal volumes in May against a drop in April of 23%.

In the latest ‘Planning Portal Market Insight Report‘, planning applications have been analysed by the type of development and geography to give a clear picture of what this means for the planning and construction industries.

Key findings include:

  • All regions have seen a growth in applications from April to May 2020, with the exception of the West Midlands and Wales, which continued to fall slightly, down 1% and 3% respectively
  • Yorkshire and the Humber saw the biggest percentage increase in volume, up 12% in May against April numbers
  • Householder applications, for projects such as extensions and loft conversions, rallied slightly in May, being down only 19% on expected seasonal volumes, instead of the 21% seen in April

Full planning applications

For the first time, the Planning Portal also takes an in-depth look at full planning applications in the first five months of 2020 and the range of non-residential development schemes.

The report breaks down the detail of net additional floorspace included in all non-residential schemes submitted online into the different Use Classes: Retail (A), Office and Industrial (B), Hotels and Institutions (C), Services (D) and Other/Sui Generis (O).

Most additional floorspace was applied for Use Classes B and O, with the single biggest gain in Storage or Distribution (B8). The data indicates a move away from some Retail (A) applications, with two subsets of this Class showing an overall reduction in net floorspace: Financial and professional services (A2) and Drinking Establishments (A4).

Scott Alford, head of business development at the Planning Portal, said: “it’s encouraging to see the market begin to lift so quickly after the easing of lockdown.

“Major construction sites reopening has certainly been a big driver, but we’ve also seen many of our consultancy customers returning staff from furlough and productivity picking up across the board.”

Read the full report here.

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