Thursday 30 June 2016 4:30 pm

Planning permissions for new homes reached the highest level since 2008 in the first quarter

There were signs housing supply could be on the up earlier this year as planning permissions for new homes are reached their highest level since 2008.

Permissions for 66,102 homes were granted in the first quarter of this year in England, up four per cent on last year, according to research from the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and Glenigan.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the Help to Buy Isa

The moving annual total is now just short of the pre-crash peak in the 12 months to March 2008.

The numbers could be a good indicator of future housing supply, if builders act on the permissions granted. The number of permissions has been increasing since 2009, with actual housing supply following suit.

Peter Andrew, deputy chairman of the HBF, said: "Planning permissions are a strong indicator of future levels of supply. The past two years have seen huge increases in building levels, with housing supply in England surpassing 180,000 homes per year in 2014-15, up 22 per cent on the previous year.

"Millions of young people remain at home with their parents and we estimate we are over a million homes short of what the country needs.

"Help to Buy equity loan is driving demand and helping thousands of first time buyers a week purchase a new build home and with interest rates remaining at historically low levels, demand remains strong."

The Treasury released statistics on Help to Buy Isas today, which showed 2,000 people have cashed in already, meaning they have made an average of just £421.

The figures showed 1,490 properties were bought in the four months to the end of March through the scheme.