The number of planning applications received by local authorities in England hit 124,400 in the first quarter of the year – 20% higher than the same period last year according to the latest Government figures.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced the data in a paper issued last week. (June 24)

The figures show more applications were granted - 87,100 decisions, 13 % higher than the same quarter in 2020; equivalent to 88% of decisions, up 1% on the same quarter of 2020.

Most major applications – 88% were decided within 13 weeks or the agreed time, a drop of 1% on the same quarter in 2020.

A total of 9,800 residential applications were granted – 4% lower than the year before, while 1,900 applications were approved for commercial developments, down 5% on the previous year.

Planning decisions in parts of Somerset have stalled as a result of concerns from Natural England about high amounts of phosphates on the Somerset Levels and Moors.

The body wrote to Somerset’s four district councils in October 2020 following the Dutch N court ruling concerning the level of phosphates present within protected Ramsar sites across the UK and Europe.

The Somerset Levels and Moors are protected by both the Habitat Regulations Act 2017 and the Ramsar Convention, an international law which recognises and protects areas of wetlands for future generations.

It is estimated around 8,000 planned homes have been affected by the ruling. A plea by the councils to be exempted from having to provide a five-year housing supply plan because of the phosphate issue have also been rejected by Housing Minister Christopher Pincher.

He promised to monitor the situation, but concluded: “I note the concerns you raise about meeting the 5-year housing land supply under the current circumstances. However, it is important to keep the planning system moving to enable it to play its full part in the economic recovery to come.”

The councils have devised a “phosphate calculator” to help developers planning schemes in the affected areas, but further actions are needed to resolve the issue.

Further data released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government showed 324,200 decisions granted to the year ending March 2021 – a fall of 5% on the previous year.

For advice on the full spectrum of planning matters please contact the experienced team at Greenslade Taylor Hunt’s Development Land and Planning Department on 01823 334466 or email

Image by Craig Garner for Unsplash.