Planning permissions and housing growth

Another extract from ‘Going west? Housing, migration and population growth in Cornwall’

A falling population growth rate since the 1980s should lead us to expect a falling rate of housebuilding. In contrast, many more houses seem to be being built in relation to our population than are being built in other regions. Current data inform us that Cornwall attracts a larger number of applications for ‘major residential developments’ (defined as developments of more than 10 houses) in relation to its resident population than other places. In the year ending September 2013 2.0 such applications were granted permission to build for every 10,000 resident population in Cornwall, compared with just 1.2 permissions for every 10,000 people in England. As its relative environmental attractiveness deteriorates, Cornwall may no longer be appealing to so many in-migrants but it is attracting more than its fair share of developers.

Only Cumbria had a higher rate of planning permissions for major housing developments in 2012-13 in relation to population. Cumbria shares with Cornwall a relatively high (though still well below the Cornish level) number of properties with no usual resident. This hints at one reason for the excess houses. The Cornish countryside has to cope with relatively higher development pressures not only because of need arising from its local communities, but to an extent because of demand from upcountry for second homes and holiday accommodation. Oddly, Cornwall Council spokespersons tend to highlight the local need but rarely volunteer information about the external demand.

Overall, housing growth in Cornwall is faster than anywhere else in the UK when related to the size of the population. Much of this is caused by demand from temporary residents for second homes and holiday lets.

You can download Going west Housing, migration and population in Cornwall here:


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