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It’s no secret that the construction industry has endured a long, slow recovery since the depths of the recession in 2008 and 2009, but the latest figures from the Home Builders Federation add to the evidence that the recovery is finally starting to pick up the pace.

Although the number of new home approvals is down slightly on the previous quarter, the moving annual total of residential planning approvals is the highest since 2008. The latest HBF New Housing Pipeline Report – carried out by Glenigan – found that in the first quarter of 2014 50,500 aprovals received planning permission. Although this figure was 12% lower than Q4 2013, it’s still 12% higher than the figure from this time last year.

However, the number of sites approved for new residential development has fallen to 679, approximately 200 fewer than in the last quarter, and over 100 fewer than in the same period last year. This figure is more worrying for politicians and construction companies alike, and shows that speeding up the planning permission process could be key to increasing the supply of housing in the UK.

Executive Chairman of the HBF, Stewart Baseley, commented on the report: ‘existing sites are being built out quicker and we now desperately need new sites to come on stream if we are to see increases in house building sustained. All builders are now identifying the planning system as the biggest threat to further increases in supply.’

‘Too many sites with outline planning permission are now stuck in the planning system awaiting final permission to start on site. We estimate there could be as many as 150,000 plots across the country in such a position.’

Despite the ever-present planning issues, construction companies should remain optimistic in the growth of the construction industry. Expanding companies should give themselves a fighting chance in an increasingly competitive industry by implementing specialist job costing software, enabling them to better determine which jobs are worth taking on, and which could leave you struggling to make a return.