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Research: More than a million approved homes not built

Words: Laura Edgar

Analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) has suggested that there are more than one million homes that have been granted planning permission but are yet to be built.

Since 2009/10, 2,564,600 homes have been approved, 1,530,680 completed.

The LGA, the representative for local councils in England, used government figures for its analysis.

It noted that since 2012/13, the number of planning permissions granted has almost doubled, with councils approving nine in 10 applications.

Additionally, the LGA acknowledged that there can be a lag between approval and homes being built but the new build completions have only increased by half as much since 2012/13.

The organisation stressed, as it has done before, that councils recognises the shortage of housing but said the backlog of homes with permission that have not been built shows that  “the planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding”.

It called on the government to give councils the power to take action on land that has planning permission for homes in the planning white paper, which is expected in the spring.

The powers should make it easier to compulsory purchase land where homes remain unbuilt. Also, councils should be able to charge developers full council tax for every unbuilt development once the original planning permission expires.

The LGA has called for, on numerous occasions, for the government to reform Right to Buy. This call is included in its submission to the Treasury ahead of the Budget in March. Reforms should enable councils to keep all of the receipts for homes sold under the policy so they can be replaced and to be able to set discounts locally.

David Renard, housing spokesman for the LGA, said: “The planning system is not a barrier to house building. The number of homes granted planning permission has far outpaced the number of homes being built.

”No-one can live in a planning permission, or a half-built house where work on a site has begun but not been completed.

“Councils need powers to tackle our housing backlog and step in where a site with planning permission lies dormant and house building has stalled.

“If we are to solve our housing shortage, councils need to be able to get building again and resume their role as major builders of affordable homes.

“It is also vital that the planning process is protected, so that councils and communities can ensure we realise the government’s ambition of building beautiful homes, which includes the necessary infrastructure and affordable housing.”

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