More than one million homes granted planning permission in the last 10 years in England have not yet been built, according to new figures from the Local Government Association (LGA).
More than 2.5 million homes have received planning permission from local authorities since 2009/10, but only just over 1.5m have been built — representing a completion rate of only 60%.
Councillor David Renard, LGA housing spokesman, said: “The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding. But no one can live in a planning permission, or a half-built house where work on a site has begun but not been completed.”
More Power to Councils
The LGA has called on the government to address this backlog of unbuilt homes, and wants councils to be afforded powers to take control of dormant sites with planning permission.
These powers, the LGA suggests, could include making it easier to purchase land where homes remain unbuilt, and charging developers full council tax for each unbuilt development from the point that the original planning permission expires.
The LGA also says that with additional funding, councils can play a prominent role not just in clearing the backlog but having a larger influence in creating more affordable homes.
“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,” said Renard.
Is the Planning Permission Process Working?
While housing completions totalled close to 178,000 between July and September 2019 – an increase of 9% on the previous year – there was an 11% dip in the number of new build homes started between July and September 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.
But the LGA is confident that the planning permission process is not to blame for these figures. And with councils now approving nine in 10 planning applications, the LGA has stressed how important it is to ensure the planning permission process continues to work efficiently.
The LGA added: “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.”
Should the government’s plans to fast-track beautiful homes be approved, it could make it easier for housebuilders and indeed self builders to get planning permission if their builds are attractive and use high-quality materials.
(MORE: Self Build: All You Need to Know About Building a Bespoke Home)