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The area of Britain where only 59pc of planning permissions are approved

Areas most likely to get planning permission, and areas least likely
Areas most likely to get planning permission, and areas least likely

West London is home to the most “Nimby” council in the country, analysis has revealed.

Hillingdon London Borough Council has rejected a higher proportion of planning permission applications than any other local authority over a 10-year period, data show.

Between 2012 and 2022, a Hillingdon resident in need of an extension had just a 59pc chance of getting their application approved, according to Telegraph analysis.

Of the 5,188 applications Hillingdon council received over the period, it approved just 3,048.

The borough was closely followed by Maldon, a town on the Blackwater estuary in Essex, where the likelihood of rejection for small-scale developments was also about one in three.


It comes as Michael Gove is expected to announce a relaxation of planning laws allowing sustainable developments on brownfield sites in major cities to get the automatic go-ahead, as part of a long-term plan to increase housing delivery.

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said over the weekend most young people could not afford to buy their first home without the Bank of Mum and Dad.

He warned that failing to address the housing crisis could drive young people to populism.

He said: “It’s a barrier to young people feeling that democracy and capitalism are working for them.”

Of the top 10 most “Nimby” areas – short for “not in my back yard” – six were in the capital.

Harrow, in north-west London, was the third-most reluctant to give a greenlight, approving only 62pc of applications.

The applications in the Telegraph’s analysis were for substantial improvements to a property, such as extensions, groundworks or a subdivision into flats, rather than for major developments.

The approval of minor changes can sometimes depend on factors such as the natural beauty of the area.

In one decision made in January 2024, Hillindon council rejected a proposal to replace garages with a bungalow because the building would be “visually incongruous” and would “fail to harmonise” with the local neighbourhood.

In 2023, Maldon council rejected proposals to build a four-bedroom house on the grounds it would “erode the rural character” of the site.

Hillingdon, Maldon and Harrow are all home to areas of protected status.

Maldon, for example, has at least 10 nature reserves. Its residents have taken to social media to object to major planning applications in their area, which they say will put a strain on local infrastructure and threaten local green spaces.

Planning red tape and so-called “Nimbyism” has been blamed for holding back the development of new housing.

In their 2019 Manifesto the Conservatives pledged to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s but so far it has repeatedly failed to meet this target.

In 2022-23, the number of new houses built was just under 235,000.

Britain’s housing shortage is a major factor behind soaring property prices and record rents which experts have said is holding back social mobility and weakening economic growth.

Steve Turner, of the Home Builders Federation, said: “The lack of land coming through the planning system is a significant cause of the housing shortage we face that is having increasingly significant social and economic implications.

“Localism is a fundamental principle we support and it is vital that local people are involved in agreeing what is built in their areas to ensure development benefits both new and existing residents.

“However, localism cannot just be a vehicle to stop development and the role of the planning system is to balance sometimes opposing needs whilst ensuring the required number of homes are built.”

Just over a million minor planning applications were lodged with local councils between 2012 and 2022, 83pc of which were approved.

The most “Yimby” council – the authority with the highest approval rate – was the City of London, where 98pc of applications were granted.

Shravan Joshi, chairman of the City of London Corporation Planning and Transportation Committee, said the council had seen a year-on-year increase in applications and approvals since the pandemic, with the planning pipeline in a “very healthy state”.

A spokesman for Hillingdon Council said the data did not reflect its current performance, with the borough’s approval rate at 78pc for the year to September 2023.

“Focusing on minor applications also excludes the larger developments which often bring with them significant economic and other benefits for residents.

“We’re committed to creating a green and sustainable borough with safe, strong communities and rigorous scrutiny of planning applications is integral to that commitment, to ensure we best protect areas of open space, of which we have plenty, as well as preventing the over-development of urban areas.”

Borough of Hillingdon
The London Borough of Hillingdon is home to a number of areas of protected status - John Lawrence

A spokesman for Maldon District Council said: “Maldon District Council has an approved local development plan which it uses to determine planning applications it receives.

“The council welcomes high-quality and well-designed development, but it will rigorously apply its planning policies to ensure new development complies with these policies and has a minimal impact and maximum benefit for the district.”

Cllr Marilyn Ashton, deputy leader and cabinet member for Planning and Regeneration for the London Borough of Harrow, said Harrow welcomed quality developments that met the needs of the borough.

She added: “We are also prepared to defend our residents from inappropriate development that does not meet our planning rules. Planning proposals are refused because they do not comply with adopted planning policy.

“In Harrow, we are very fortunate to have a lot of green belt and metropolitan open land along with many conservation areas and listed buildings.

“These special areas require a high level of protection against harmful and inappropriate development as do the large number of leafy and attractive suburban areas.

“It’s why we adopted our supplementary planning documents to preserve the character of our suburbs.

“Between 2019 and 2022, Harrow exceeded its housing target, delivering 2,650 new homes against a target of 2,070, in doing so meeting the Government’s housing delivery test and making Harrow one of only 14 London boroughs under no sanctions from central government.”


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