The impact of the lockdown on planning applications has been felt across all types of applications…save for one (to be revealed later). As expected, in line with the general economic downturn over the last couple of months, applications have dropped fairly drastically when compared with last year’s March and April figures.
For all types of applications, following a relatively shallow dip of 3.5% in March from last year’s figures, April saw a much deeper average drop of 18.5% on last year.
Outside of London (-23%), the North West (-22%), South East (-20%) and East of England (-20%) were hit worst in terms of reduction in applications in April (from last year).
Across the country, in April, householder applications and consents (mainly used to apply for extensions, conservatories, loft conversions, outbuildings and porches), were down 21% from last year (from 15,064 to 11,929) while applications for full planning permissions were down 23% (11,726 to 9,068).
It is encouraging, however, that applications for outline consent (with some matters reserved for later determination) which establishes the principle of development on land were not hit quite as dramatically, seeing only a 3% drop from the same time last year. But outline consents where all matters were reserved for later determination were down 21%. This suggests that there is still some confidence in the longer term market where permission in principle can be obtained with some detail included at this early stage.
The biggest impact has been seen in applications for advertising consent which, given the fact that physical advertising ‘out on the street’ is going to have far less viewers in a lockdown situation, and the fact that many organisations are cutting their advertising budgets in an effort to stay afloat, is hardly surprising. Applications for full permission (displaying an advert or any commercial signage) is down 65% this April compared to last, and applications for consents (hoardings, billboards, street furniture and phonebox adverts) is down 60%.
And the winner is…
Now for the big reveal! Again, this will hardly come as a shock to readers. As you may probably be aware, some development is ‘permitted’ but requires a procedure of prior approval from the local authority to be followed before it can go ahead. One type of development which falls under this category is telecommunications.
There has been much media coverage about the programme of 5G mast installation during lockdown and the facts speak for themselves. In April this year, applications for telecoms prior approvals were up 939% from the same time last year. Even between March and April this year, applications hiked from 198 in March, to 457 in April, a jump of 230% in just one month.
The figures in this article were provided by the Planning Portal in its inaugural Market Insight Report for May 2020. To keep you up to date with facts and figures, I will be providing a monthly update on the market.