July & August – Planning applications in London’s West End

It has been a slightly busier than expected couple of months (see this – and this – and this) which has meant that I’ve fallen behind in keeping an eye on planning activity in London’s West End. So this month I’m having a look at stats from July and August.

Applications in July showed the strongest increase since the March and the start of Covid-19 disruption, with 34% growth on the previous month, getting close to 80% of the level of activity one would usually expect at this time of year. This is broadly tracking GDP growth as it starts to recover.

August, however, seems to have seen quite a fall off again with a 30% fall from the previous month. There is usually a bit of a decline in August, presumably due to holidays, but this is more than I would have anticipated. There is often a bit of a lag in applications coming through the system so August’s figures may get revised up a little, but I suspect the main culprit is the compressed holiday season this year and associated disruption and I hope that September will see a return to the growth in activity we saw in June and July.

August’s blip was also less marked when one looks at ‘proper’ planning applications (as opposed to conditions, trees, tables and chairs, etc) – whilst these showed strong growth in July their decline in August was less marked.

As usual, the first graph above is monthly application numbers for all applications (blue) and planning applications ‘proper’ (red), set alongside the average number of applications for that month over the last 15 years.

The second graph, below, shows an index for monthly total applications, and a smoothed three month moving average, alongside the ONS monthly GDP index.

A larger version of the graphs is available here.

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