Stewart Jackson is the Member of Parliament for Peterborough and was Shadow Regeneration Minister 2008-10. Follow Stewart on Twitter.
Superficially, it is good news that figures released this week show that the number of planning approvals for new homes granted in the final quarter of last year was 62% higher than the year before, according to the Home Builders Federation's latest Housing Pipeline report.
In the three month period to December 2012, local authorities granted approvals for 45,041 new homes in England, 33% up on the previous quarter and the highest quarterly number since Quarter 1 in 2008. However, the Home Builders Federation says that the number is still short of the 60,000 required each quarter but the increase is significant as it points to potential improvement in the planning system since the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework in March 2012, which I strongly supported.
The Localism Act 2011 has had a positive impact on the housing market supply side: Clearly, the liberalisation of the planning regime, via policies such as the abolition of regional spatial strategies and regional planning targets, encouraging developers to renegotiate Section 106 planning gain obligations, neighbourhood development plans and the New Homes Bonus have all made a positive contribution. The mortgage market seems also to be more responsive, with new products for intermediate as well as outright sale and the number of weekly reservations under the government’s NewBuy scheme doubling to 130 so far this year.