Covid-19: Planning applications in London’s West End

The end of the first full month under lock-down seems a good time to look at the evidence of effects on planning activity and application numbers in London’s West End.

The provisional figures below are for the Core Central Activities Zone (CAZ) in Westminster, roughly analogous to the West End plus Whitehall and Victoria. They don’t include the part of the West End in Camden.

In headline terms there appears to have been a significant decline in April, from an average of about 375 applications / month historically, to around 220 applications this April, about 40% below average (purple lines). This followed March when applications were about 20% down.

Planning applications – this year and 15 year average

When one looks at planning applications ‘proper’ (that is, not including condition discharge, listed building consent applications, trees, etc and excluding householder applications) the trend is not quite as pronounced, with applications in April about 37% down (see the red lines).

It’s worth bearing in mind there will probably be a few late receipts and applications backdated to April so I suspect these figures will tick up a little.

I’ve included the full time series in the second chart below. As one can see the decline in applications (which had been trending down in any case) is comparable to – if not slightly more pronounced than – the decline at the depths of the financial crisis in ’08 / ’09. (The first blue line marks the collapse of Lehman in September ’08, the second the March ’20 lockdown.)

Planning applications – 2004 to 2020

These charts aren’t live, but I will look to update them again at the end of May. It will take far more than one month to get a sense of the implications of current circumstances on planning in the West End.

Click here to see full size versions of both charts.

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