New figures suggest that planning permission for new houses and conversions across England has fallen to a record low.
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) said permissions continued to fall “sharply”, with home numbers approved in the first half of 2023 down 19%.
If the trend continues, the housing supply for England could fall to levels not seen for a decade, it added.
The Government said planning permission was granted for 264,000 homes in the past year.
The Conservative Government’s 2019 manifesto promised to build 300,000 homes annually in England by the mid-2020s.
But in December, the Government said councils would get more flexibility over meeting centrally-set housing targets.
The federation said the data confirmed industry warnings that amid an increasingly “anti-development” policy environment and a worsening economy, the number of homes built in the coming years could fall to record low levels.
About 2,456 housing projects were granted planning permission during the second quarter of 2023. According to the report, this number was down 10% on the previous quarter, 20% on the same time a year ago, and was the lowest level since similar records began in 2006.
The HBF said that if the trend continued, it would lead to a reduction in housing delivery of 44,000 homes a year, which would see the housing supply for England fall to levels not seen for a decade.
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, blamed the situation on an “increasingly anti-development and anti-business” policy environment, which he said has caused the “sharp fall in the number of homes being built”.
“The government’s capitulation to the Nimby lobby on planning, its mishandling of water legislation, and – amidst a lack of mortgage availability – the lack of support for first-time buyers could see housing supply drop markedly in the coming years,” he said.
“Fewer homes being built amidst an acute housing crisis has clear social implications, in particular for young people, and will reduce economic activity and cost jobs.”
The department acknowledged the Government needed to do more to speed up the planning system, “which is why our long-term housing plan will reduce unnecessary delays and speed up new developments”.
“This is backed by £24m to scale up planning capacity and a further £13.5m for a super-squad to support large-scale projects. At the same time, we’re scrapping defective EU laws that are blocking 100,000 homes from being built,” they said.
Last month, the Government announced that EU-era water pollution restrictions for housing developments will be scrapped to build up to 100,000 new homes by 2030.
Environmental groups have described the loosening of the restrictions as “disgraceful”.