The number of approvals rose in line with expectations from February’s revised total of 30,600.
David Dooks, BBA statistics director, said: "The Funding for Lending Scheme has made the mortgage market more competitive – allowing smaller institutions to offer attractive rates.
“But nevertheless the main high street banks still provide 60% of new mortgage borrowing.
"Mortgage approvals edged up back to levels of a year ago and the prospect of more first-time buyers entering the market during 2013 is likely to help mortgage chains in due course.
“However economic uncertainty and subdued confidence continues to determine borrowing behaviour, with households and businesses reducing borrowing and building up deposits where possible."
The data also revealed that personal deposits have risen by 5.8% over the year to March and that net mortgage borrowing from banks fell by 0.1%.