Rise in Commercial Development Planning

29th March 2022

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Since COVID-19 hit our shores two years ago, those who were able to perform their duties remotely were forced to work from home as the pandemic gripped the nation with extraordinary fear and panic.

Whichever way you choose to work at home, be it sat at the family dining table, or you may be fortunate to have a designated space for your makeshift office, home working has become the new norm for many of us and employees now demand this feature as part of their standard working terms and conditions.

With that in mind, one would expect the need for new commercial developments would have lessened somewhat. Well apparently not, new data shows the number of commercial planning applications approved in England grew by 9 per cent in 2021, compared with the previous year’s figures.

Almost 8,000 planning applications for commercial developments received full approval in 2021, according to statistics made public by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

The rise in the approval rate for commercial development applications comes in the broader context of a 15 per cent annual rise in the overall number of planning applications made in 2021, compared with 2020.

In total, 474,100 planning applications were received for both residential and commercial developments last year, the total number of planning applications received in the previous year was 410,600.

In terms of regions in England, the highest number of applications received were in the southeast, which logged an 88 per cent approval rate. The highest approval rate (93 per cent) was recorded in the northeast region.

However, the increase in submissions and approvals is not mirrored in the number of schemes making it off the drawing board and on to the building site.

Scott Smyth, Founder and Group CEO of Soben, said: “The increase in commercial planning approvals may come as a surprise to many people as we have seen a huge increase in home working as a result of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns.

“I feel this rise in commercial developments is not particularly unusual when you consider the historical data and we have seen an increased demand for our services for this sector.

“The real challenge now is to turn these approved applications into actual projects amidst the socio-economic pressures we’re experiencing from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.”