Build to Rent planning applications increase 52% in pandemic year

Ascend Properties measures planning applications which shows the Build to Rent sector has performed well during the Covid-19 pandemic year.

Norris Green Village Build to Rent, where planning applications in the sector have risen - Ascend Properties | BTR News

Research from Ascend Properties shows that the UK Build to Rent sector has performed well during the Covid-19 pandemic year – with planning application requests rising by 52%.

Build to Rent is becoming a driving force in the UK new-build market. According to Ascend Properties, while the Covid-19 pandemic has slightly slowed what looked to be a very impressive rate of growth, the Build to Rent market has done an admirable job of recovering from the early shock to maintain positive momentum throughout a challenging year.

Build to Rent planning permission applications are a useful way to measure performance – as it shows exactly how many developments are being conceived, how many of those result in permission being granted, and how many are either refused or withdrawn by the applicant. It provides the opportunity to examine both developer appetite and local authority willingness to push for a Build to Rent boom in this country.  

Figures show that the pre-pandemic peak for Build to Rent planning application approvals came in Q2 2019 – when 6,682 applications were submitted. Of these, 4,151, an all-time high of 62%, were granted full planning consent while 2,531, an all-time low of 38% were either rejected or voluntarily withdrawn. 

By the time the Covid-19 pandemic began in Q1 2020, planning applications had risen to 7,900 submissions – but the amount being granted was down to 52% while rejections and withdrawals rose to 48%.

Q2 2020 brought a predictably significant slump for the sector. While the total number of Build to Rent planning applications only fell slightly to 6,530, the approval rate dropped significantly to 39%, while rejection and withdrawal jumped to almost 61%. However, from this point forward, the Build to Rent sector quickly returned to a steady rate of growth.

By Q1 2021, a year on from the pandemic and lockdown, the Build to Rent sector showed signs of being on the brink of a post-pandemic boom. An all-time high of 11,975 planning applications were submitted, up 52% on the year. Of these, 58% received full approval, a rise of almost 6% since the start of the pandemic, while 42% were either rejected or withdrawn, a drop of nearly -6% on the year. 

“It’s clear that Build to Rent is becoming the go-to choice for developers, with projects popping up both in major cities and smaller regional towns.  

“But what we’re also seeing is a clear uptick in willingness from local planning authorities to grant permission for build to rent developments. While developers sense high yield, low-risk opportunities, local authorities sense an opportunity to simultaneously meet the demand for new homes while rejuvenating and reinvigorating their economies and communities by introducing this new, dynamic way of living.”

Managing Director of Ascend Properties, Ged McPartlin