475,000 homes with planning permission still waiting to be built

Planning permission

New research published today reveals there are a record 475,647 homes in England which have been given planning permission but have yet to be built.

The study, commissioned by the Local Government Association and carried out by industry experts Glenigan, shows this bumper backlog has grown at a rapid pace over the past few years.

In 2012/13, the total of unimplemented planning permissions was 381,390 and in 2013/14 it was 443,265.

The LGA said that the figures underline the need for councils to be able to invest in building more homes and also for the skills shortage affecting the construction industry to be addressed.

Council leaders also want powers to charge developers full council tax for every unbuilt development from the point that the original planning permission expires.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, also said:

  • Developers are taking longer to complete work on site. It now takes 32 months, on average, from sites receiving planning permission to building work being completed – 12 months longer than in 2007/8
  • The number of planning applications being granted planning permission in 2014/15 was 212,468 – this is up from 187,605 in 2007/08 and is higher than all previous years
  • Councils still approve nine in every 10 applications
  • While the construction industry’s forecasted annual recruitment need is up 54% from 2013, there are 10,000 fewer construction qualifications being awarded by colleges, apprenticeships and universities
  • There were 58% fewer completed construction apprenticeships last year than in 2009.

Cllr Peter Box, LGA Housing spokesman, said: “These figures conclusively prove that the planning system is not a barrier to house building. In fact the opposite is true, councils are approving almost half a million more houses than are being built, and this gap is increasing.

“While private developers have a key role in solving our chronic housing shortage, they cannot build the 230,000 needed each year on their own. To tackle the new homes backlog and to get Britain building again, councils must have the power to invest in building new homes and to force developers to build homes more quickly.

“Skills is the greatest barrier to building, not planning. If we are to see the homes desperately needed across the country built and jobs and apprenticeships created, councils must be given a leading role to tackle our growing construction skills shortage, which the industry says is one of the greatest barriers to building.

“Devolving careers advice, post-16 and adult skills budgets and powers to local areas would allow councils, schools, colleges and employers to work together to help unemployed residents and young people develop the vital skills to build.

“New homes are badly-needed and councils want to get on with the job of building them. If we are to see a genuine end to our housing crisis we have to be given the powers to get on with it.”

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Housing and Planning, said: “Tory Ministers’ belief that you solve the housing crisis by simply stripping away planning rules that build affordable homes and make sure local people are consulted is nonsense.

“After five years of this approach, home ownership is now at the lowest level in a generation and fewer homes were built over the last five years than under any peacetime government since the 1920s.

“The government’s Housing Bill repeats these same mistakes – and chokes off much-needed affordable homes with it. Ministers need to wake up to the fact that their housing plans are failing.”

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