Planning Market Insight Report from the Planning Portal
July 2021 Planning Market Insight Report
Welcome to our latest Plann We are halfway through the year, how is the market looking? As we enter the second half of the year, we thought it would be a good opportunity to take stock of the year so far. The first half of 2021 has certainly thrown up some challenges and developments, what with extended lockdown restrictions and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant, but it has been another strong six months in terms of application submissions with 387,427 applications being submitted through the Planning Portal. Last year we discussed how the data was ‘bucking the trend’ of what we would expect to see on a seasonal basis and whether this would carry on into 2021. We have certainly seen far greater numbers of submissions than in previous years, with March alone realising the highest ever with over 77,200 applications submitted in a single month. However, relative to the seasonal trends depicted over previous years, submissions are seeming to follow a similar pattern. Following recent government announcements, it looks like a return to the office is imminent. From many of the organisations I have been in discussion with over the last few months, a hybrid working policy seems to be a very common way businesses will be working going forward. We’re wondering if this new working policy will affect the rate of application submissions and impact the types of applications we see submitted. Will householder applications still be the leading application type with people making home improvements rather than move house? Or will we see a rise in change of use applications such as Office to Residential, as people no longer utilise the office space they needed previously? Looking forward towards the second half of the year, there is a lot still to come. As of 1 August 2021, several planning legislation changes will be implemented. These will affect a range of application types on the Planning Portal as well as the guidance we provide around common projects, and we are working to update the content on the service to account for them all. Further in this report, we have outlined these changes and what they mean, in easy to understand terms. If you would like to read about these in more detail, please feel free to read our full blog post. Excitingly, we have also just opened registration for our third annual conference, to be held 15 – 18 November 2021. For the second year running, this event will be delivered to you virtually, but this time on our new conference platform which
ning Market Insight Report. will give an even better experience and greater interaction between delegates, speakers, and sponsors. The conference will span across four days with over 30 speakers and 1,000 delegates, providing you with over 12 hours of CPD accredited content. Super early bird tickets are now available. If you work for the public sector or for a government body, you will be able to register for the conference for free. To do so, you must have a gov.uk email address. You can register for the event here. We’re also going to be launching our new Planning Portal Community Hub very soon – the dedicated community for those in planning, building and development. The hub will be the one stop shop for industry related content, webinars, roundtables and discussions, with excellent networking opportunities. Access to the community hub will be free to all users, all you have to do to access the content is to register. Keep an eye out for future communications to ensure you are included!
Sarah Chilcott Managing Director – Planning Portal
Application numbers in England and Wales National graph over five years 80,000
The national graph represents the number of online planning application submissions via the Planning Portal each month since the beginning of 2016. Typically, we see a slight drop in application numbers between the months of Lockdown May and June, however this year saw a negligible increase of 376 between the two months. In June, 63,873 applications were submitted, compared to 63,497 in the previous month. As reported last month, May figures were actually slightly lower than we would have expected and so it seems possible that this is simply a flattening of the usual curve, most likely due to the number of working days in the relevant months which fluctuate year-on-year.
In terms of a comparison to 2020, June 2021 saw a 17% increase on June 2020 volumes. This was compared to a 52% increase between May 2020 and May 2021, reported in last month’s issue. This narrowing of the percentage increase between the same month year-on-year is, however, unsurprising as last June was the beginning of the uptick in application numbers. The swell of applications created by the first lockdown and pent-up demand continued to ramp up through July before quietening slightly for the usual holiday period in August. We would therefore expect this year to return to a more usual pattern next month.
National graph by week 90,000
50,000 12,000 40,000 10,000
The regional view The rise in applications this June as compared to June 2020 was felt in every region in England and Wales. Overall, applications were 17% higher than last year, but though every region saw an increase, the extent of this varied across the country. The North East continued to see the strongest recovery in percentage terms, 26% higher this June than last, closely followed by London and Wales where volumes were 24% higher. Those regions performing below the baseline increase of 17% were the West Midlands (11%), Yorkshire and the Humber (12%), the South West and North West (both 14%). The map shows the percentage change in applications by region from May 2021 to June 2021. Whilst the percentages vary slightly across the country, it is also worth noting that the volumes submitted in each region vary greatly – from nearly 13,000 applications in June in both London and the South East, to as few as 1,500 in the North East. The detail can be seen in the bar chart below which demonstrates the volume submitted in each region of England and in Wales in June 2020 and June 2021.
Regional percentage change 90,000
0 East Midlands
East of England
North West Jun-20
South East Jun-21
West Midlands Yorkshire and the Humber
Percentage change in applications
1% West Midlands
Yorkshire & The Humber
East of England
7% South West
0% -2% S o u t h E a s t
The map shows the percentage change in applications by region from May to June 2021. 7
Local Planning Authorities: Yorkshire and the Humber This month’s report focuses on the Yorkshire and the Humber region as one of the regions leading the recovery of planning applications nationally. When comparing the submission figures for 2019 against 2020, the region received the second highest percentage increase at 17%. This has continued to increase further when measuring the first half of 2021 vs 2020: 27,524 submissions have been received so far this year against 19,473 in the first six months of 2020. The region comprises of South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, North Yorkshire (excluding areas in Tees Valley of North East England), North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire with its largest settlements being Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Hull, and York. As you may expect, these settlement areas are Local Authorities and it is the neighbouring West Yorkshire authorities of Leeds City Council and Bradford Metropolitan District Council that receive the highest number of application submissions as per the table. Between them they have received 7,731 applications in the first six months of this year which is 28% of the total across the region. This is a considerable increase when comparing to 2020 figures, with a further 2,636 applications being received. Looking at the percentage increase, Leeds is up by 55% and Bradford 46% for this period. Across the region there have been high percentage increases by all authorities – Wakefield top the list at 62%, followed closely by Rotherham with 59%. At the lower end of the scale are the National Park authorities of Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, with 21% and 14% respectively.
Yorkshire and the Humber application submissions Local Planning Authority
Leeds City Council
Bradford Metropolitan District Council
East Riding of Yorkshire Council Sheffield City Council
298 274 152 167 166 164 146 122 117 118 67 79 72 68 58 51 47 53 36 4 3979
294 301 210 193 158 157 155 152 116 125 106 96 78 71 58 71 65 48 44 4 4450
-1% 10% 38% 16% -5% -4% 6% 25% -1% 6% 58% 22% 8% 4% 0% 39% 38% -9% 22% 0% 12%
1295 1265 802 910 813 817 735 566 598 499 411 392 360 289 272 306 269 276 236 27 19473
1815 1741 1298 1200 1083 1019 925 900 804 769 569 556 481 417 415 411 368 335 269 41 27524
40% 38% 62% 32% 33% 25% 26% 59% 34% 54% 38% 42% 34% 44% 53% 34% 37% 21% 14% 52% 41%
Kirklees Metropolitan Council Harrogate Borough Council Wakefield Metropolitan District Council City of York Council Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council Hambleton District Council Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council North Lincolnshire Council Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council Hull City Council Selby District Council Craven District Council Scarborough Borough Council North East Lincolnshire Council Richmondshire District Council Ryedale District Council Yorkshire Dales National Park North York Moors National Park North Yorkshire County Council Totals
Applications by type Applications for home improvements continued to outperform the average rise in applications, as they have done consistently since applications recovered from the shock of the first lockdown in spring 2020. In June, Householder consents were 37% higher than in May 2020, against a total increase of 17%. Other consent types relating to home improvements also performed strongly, with Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) applications and Prior Approvals for Larger Home Extensions 39% and 33% higher respectively than the previous year. The outlook for larger schemes continues to improve, with Full Planning applications and associated consents 11% higher. Whilst this is lower than the 32% increase last month, it should be remembered that this is against a much lower baseline in-month, as we begin to compare months where we saw a significant upturn last year. The other application types of note this month were Advertisement consents, which includes out of home advertising and shopfront signage. As previously reported, this consent type was particularly badly hit as a result of the pandemic but has since shown a strong rise for the fourth consecutive month. Applications of this type were 94% higher than last June. Prior Approvals for Telecoms were 38% lower than in June 2020. This is the third consecutive month where we have seen this type of application lower than last year, though these application types tend to be more reliant on programme rollouts than seasonality. And finally, Works to Trees applications were 25% lower than in June 2020.
Householder and associated consents
Total 2020 vs 2019 (+/-) +18%
June 2021 vs 2020 (+/-) +37%
Full Planning and associated consents
+378% +36% +14% -
-38% -25% +39% +33%
Outline Applications Advertising Applications Prior Approval: Development by Telecoms Operators Tree Works: Trees in conservation areas/subject to TPOs Lawful Development Certificates Prior Approval: Larger Home Extension
Full Planning Applications and associated consents 14,000
Householder Applications and associated consents 28,000
Changing legislation for planning applications from 1 August 2021 Much like proverbial London buses, several key legislative changes from Whitehall are all coming along at once on 1 August 2021. They will affect a range of application types on the Planning Portal as well as the guidance we provide around common projects, and we are working to update the content on the service to account for them all. You will be able to find more information on our blog, which also includes further links to government legislation for a more in-depth review of the upcoming changes.
Permitted development changes affecting ‘Prior Approval’ applications Use class updates Following the change to Use Classes last September, permitted development rights were left using the ‘legacy’ Use Classes. A full review and update to the legislation has now taken place. For our application system, this means that some of the current Prior Approval application types: • Will be made redundant (i.e. where there is no longer a requirement for a Prior Approval application); • Will be superseded (i.e. by alternative types of Prior Approval with different conditions and limitations); • Will see their scope altered (e.g. to the types of use that can be changed from or to). To account for this, we will be placing warnings on relevant ‘Eligibility’ questions, and updating the content of the application types, questions and information requirements to reflect the changes and ensure users are made aware if they could be affected.
New permitted development rights New permitted development rights will allow Commercial/Business/Service uses to be changed to Dwellinghouses. As expected, there are specific conditions and limitations on this new right, including the need to make a ‘Prior Approval’ application so that specific details and matters can be reviewed by the Local Authority to determine if further action is required. We will introduce a fillable PDF form for the new prior approval application type as an interim measure whilst we work to enable it, and other ‘missing’ application types, on the new Planning Portal platform.
Development management procedure changes, affecting applications for planning permission Fire statements As part of the ongoing changes to fire safety regulations, certain types of proposed development (“multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height, or 7 or more storeys”) will, from 1 August 2021, require that a ‘Fire Statement’ is completed by an expert and submitted as part of the application for planning permission; or is considered as a matter for prior approval. We will add a ‘Fire Statement’ supporting document type and make it optional for relevant application types. We plan to link to MHCLG’s template fire statement to allow users to download and complete it before uploading it as a supporting document. We will also surface the need for the fire statement and link to the guidance within the application questions.
Changing legislation for planning applications from 1 August 2021 Fast track determination procedures for public infrastructure developments Certain types of proposed major public infrastructure developments (“hospitals, schools and further education colleges, prisons, young offenders’ institutions and other criminal justice accommodation”) will, from 1 August 2021, be eligible for shorter determination timeframes.
Fee changes for certain Prior Approval applications Changes to the fees for specific prior approval applications will also take effect, covering off three of the recently introduced types that had no specific fee value set. Two of these were previously covered by more widely applicable fees: • Prior Approval: Change of use – commercial/business/service to dwellinghouses • Prior Approval: Erection, extension, or alteration of a university building. The other is currently free of change and will see a fee introduced: • Prior Approval: Enlargement of a dwellinghouse by construction of additional storeys. As these types of application are currently only available on Planning Portal as fillable PDF forms, we will update our fee schedule to reflect the changes to the fee values and available exemptions.
Icons made by Freepik from Flaticon 14
Planning application fees Alongside the rise in planning applications, planning fees also rose in June, which saw a total of £28,814,705 securely transacted through the Planning Portal. Compared to June 2020, when planning fees totalled £21,790,440, this is a 32% increase. Given that the increase in planning applications was 17% over the same period, we can see that fees have risen more sharply. This is likely to indicate a return of larger applications which attract larger fees than standard homeowner projects and correlates with the data on applications by type. Fees also rose between May 2021 and June 2021. Again, although application numbers also rose slightly in the same period (less than 1%), fees rose more steeply, showing a 12% increase from May 2021’s total of £25,838,750. This further supports the findings above. This is good news for the development industry as a whole, perhaps indicating a further strengthening of confidence for the sector. It is also good news for Local Authorities who, as reported last month, were struggling with resourcing planning departments pre-pandemic, but have been even harder hit as volumes have begun to rise, particularly on small homeowner projects where fees are low.
Planning fee income for online applications £35,000,000
Planning Portal: Past, Present and Future Webinar series – we’re taking a summer break! We’ll be taking a short break from hosting our monthly webinars over the summer. In the meantime, we’ll be working hard behind the scenes. Our Solutions Team are working to finalise the first stage of developments for our application service. The re-platformed site allows us greater functionality which will enable us to work in a more agile manner and be more responsive to change and to implementing improvements. We are developing each component part of making an application in a modular way which will then be transferable to other services, such as online building control applications. In light of this, we are currently defining when development will be completed, however it is vitally important that we are in a position to migrate all of our customers and partners across to the new system as smoothly and efficiently as possible to ensure continuity of our service across all applicants and Local Authority delivery partners. We will soon be going live with our Planning Portal Community Hub, the dedicated community for those in planning, building and development. All future webinars and events will be hosted through this free community page. The hub will allow us to provide you with an increased interactive experience and dedicated networking opportunities. If you missed any of our previous webinars or would like to watch again, please catch up on our YouTube channel.
The Planning Portal Annual Conference 2021 will take place virtually on 15 – 18 November 2021, and you can now book tickets to attend. Bigger and better than last year! Following the success of our last event, we are again going to be hosting our conference virtually across four days, but this year it will be hosted on our new platform. This new technology allows each delegate to create a profile and input interests and areas of speciality, then the system works to pair you up with other delegates, speakers, sessions, products and exhibitors that will be of interest. Four days of short, sharp take-home presentations from sector-leading speakers and panellists will bring together a wide range of delegates from planning and building to discuss the most significant topics affecting the industry. These include planning reform and the digitisation of the planning system, biodiversity net gain, carbon zero and community engagement. The conference will provide up to 12 hours of CPD accredited content, while its flexible, virtual nature allows you to co-ordinate it around other work priorities. Super Early Bird Tickets are now on sale – only £99 +VAT, get yours today! Do you work for the public sector or a government body? Anyone working in the Public Sector or for a Government Body will be able to access the conference for free. To do so, follow the registration process on the website and select Public Sector/Government Body as your ticket type. Anyone registering for this type of pass, must do so with a gov.uk email address.
Register and book tickets Added extra! We will soon be launching our new Planning Portal Community Hub – the dedicated community for those in planning, building and development. As part of your conference registration you will automatically be added to this community and will receive notification of the platform as soon as it is live. 17
Share your thoughts Through this report we are aiming to deliver unique insight, the latest trends in the market and analysis of key planning and building topics. We believe our content is relevant and interesting, but we always welcome feedback and recommendations. We’d be grateful if you could fill in our short survey to help us improve the report:
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Next month’s edition Having reviewed how the year has panned out so far in terms of planning application submissions, next month we will be hearing from the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) about their experiences of building control submissions throughout the pandemic.
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July 2021: Planning Market Insight Report