423,000 homes with planning permission approved are still waiting to be built, research reveals

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Planning Law on Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Research published by the Local Government Association (LGA) in recent days has revealed that the UK has a backlog of more than 423,000 new homes with pre-approved planning permission that are still waiting to be built.

The LGA’s report suggests that this ‘backlog’ has grown by almost 16 per cent in the last year, despite the fact that UK councils are approving approximately nine in every ten planning applications received from developers – suggesting that the planning system itself is no barrier to the building process.

In fact, the report suggests that the root of the problem lies in the fact that building sites are being left empty for long periods of time, due to delays in the building process coupled with the inability of councils to intervene when developers fail to build quickly enough.

Following these findings, the LGA is calling on the Government to extend greater powers to councils, which would enable them to take action on any unbuilt land which has already received planning permission.

The group claims there is an urgent need for councils to be given powers to act on uncompleted schemes, such as:

• Easily allowing for compulsory purchases of land in locations where homes remain unbuilt.
• Being able to charge developers full council tax for unbuilt developments from the point original planning permission expires.

The group, which represents some 370 councils all across the country, has voiced concerns that currently, it takes an average of 40 months for a scheme which has received planning permission to be built.

This timeframe is approximately eight months longer than it would have taken back in 2013/14, the LGA has said.

Councillor Martin Tett, a spokesperson for LGA Housing, said: “These figures prove that the planning system is not a barrier to house building. In fact, the opposite is true. In the last year, councils and their communities granted twice as many planning permissions as the number of new homes that were completed.

“No-one can live in a planning permission. Councils need greater powers to act where housebuilding has stalled.

“To tackle the new homes backlog and to get the country building again, councils also need the freedom to borrow and invest in desperately needed new homes,” he said.


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