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March: Planning market insight

by on April 7, 2020

Following our recent post, the full data for March is now in and reveals some interesting detail and perhaps cause for cautious optimism.  Normally, March is the busiest month for online planning application submissions, typically rising about 10 per cent on February’s totals.

As mentioned in the last post, this trend continued for the first week in March but then numbers started to decline as measures to control COVID-19 were put in place and business and local authorities had to adapt their working processes quickly.

Overall however, the picture was reasonably healthy.  Total online planning application submissions for March 2020 were only down 3.5 per cent compared to February 2020.  Coincidentally, they were also 3.5 per cent lower than March last year.

Looking more closely we can see that the two biggest planning application types by volume (householder and full planning) largely followed the overall trend.  Householder applications were actually flat from February and full planning dropped by around four per cent.

However, it’s worth highlighting a couple of other types with noticeable differences:

  • Advertising consents seem to have been affected more than most with a drop of 14 per cent
  • Prior approvals for telecoms increased by 56 per cent
  • Outline permission applications were up 12 per cent, perhaps a good indication that the pipeline for major schemes remains strong
  • Change of use conversions to residential units increased across the board, whereas change of use from retail to other purposes was down.

March application stats

It’s obviously early days but online applications also appear to have begun rising again at the start of April, with numbers last week around four per cent higher than the week before.

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