Nearly half million homes with planning waiting to be built

Aaron Morby 10 months ago

A record 475,647 homes in England have now got planning permission but have yet to be built.

housing theme starts house building
Councils want to charge full council tax on homes not built when permission expires

The bumper backlog of homes revealed in a fresh study, commissioned by the Local Government Association, has prompted calls for tardy developers to pay full council tax on homes not built before the original planning permission expires.

Councils are also calling for a greater role in housing delivery and for the skills shortage to be addressed.

The research carried out by construction information specialist Glenigan shows the 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.

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.”

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

Developers are also 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.

Housing planning to completion trends

2010 – 2015

2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Planning granted 128,617 170,339 165,903 207,539 212,468
Homes completed 48,828 67,034 123,931 127,130 136,893
Not started 382,099 387,819 381,390 443,265 475,647
Planning to start (months) 9 11 12 14 14
Time to build (months) 14 14 16 18 18
Approval to complete (months) 24 25 27 32 32

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.

“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,” said Cnllr Box

“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.”

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