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Build To Rent cheerleaders complain about slow planning consents

The British Property Federation claims the time required for Build To Rent planning applications has significantly increased over the past decade - and it’s not happy. 

It claims 40 per cent of sites achieving detailed planning permission in 2023 took at least a year to do so.

The analysis, conducted with Savills, says the proportion of BTR developments taking over a year to receive consent has increased from seven per cent in 2014 to 40 per cent last year. 


Guy Whittaker, head of UK Build To Rent research at Savills, says: “Investment into Build To Rent proved resilient in 2023, in spite of challenges around the cost of debt and continued material and labour-cost inflation. Investment continues to be directed towards development and the deals struck this year will ultimately deliver 12,000 much-needed homes for private renters.”

“Investor appetite continues to grow, but the time taken to bring homes through the planning system, as our research demonstrates, remains a challenge. With schemes taking longer to work their way from application to permission, this reduces the number of ‘oven-ready’ sites, given investors are unlikely to take planning risk. Boosting the number of consented sites is therefore crucial to allow the sector to deliver on its huge growth potential”.

The number of BTR homes with detailed permission in Q4 2023 was 58,000, the highest number on record. This suggests a strong pipeline of future growth. Starts, however, have deteriorated over recent quarters, reaching 12,500 units in Q4 2023, from a post-pandemic peak of 25,000 units in Q3 2022.

Despite this challenge, the analysis highlighted the sector has reached a significant milestone, with the total number of BtR homes completed in the UK reaching 100,300 units, an uplift of 17 per cent nationally, year on year.

The BPF insists that the sector continues to expand across the UK, as regions see a 23 per cent year-on-year increase on the number of BTR homes under construction, almost double that of London (12 per cent).  The pipeline in the regions has also increased by eight per cent quarter-on-quarter and 22 per cent on an annual basis with 77,282 homes planned.  Completions in London reached 46,700, and 53,600 in the regions.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, comments: “The BTR market has grown significantly throughout the past decade. While reaching such a significant milestone for the sector is encouraging, we must ensure current challenges are temporary. Sentiment certainly is improving, and when interest rate cuts become real, rather than talked about, I would expect the sector to expand rapidly, given the strong pipeline of units that exist with planning permission.”


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