The Local Government Association (LGA) has recently revealed that, despite Britain’s housing shortage, a record number of homes remain un-built even though they have the appropriate planning permission. The figures indicate that the amount of un-built homes is 25% higher than 5 years ago, equating to 475,000 “properties”.
A joint study by the LGA and construction group Glenigan has highlighted that across all property developers there are 475,647 unbuilt homes that have planning permission – more than three times the amount of houses built in Britain during the last financial year.
The latest findings, together with figures revealed by the Guardian last week that highlighted the 9 largest housebuilders are sitting on enough land to build 615,152 homes, will undoubtedly put pressure on developers to do more in a bid to solve the housing crisis.
Shadow Housing Minister, John Healey expresses his concerns regarding the government’s plans to tackle the housing shortage:
“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 research by the LGA, which represents more than 370 councils, goes on to highlight that developers are now taking longer to complete developments. It takes an average of 32 months from the date a site is granted planning permission to the date building works are complete – this is a whole year longer than in 2008.
LGA Housing Spokesman, Cllr Peter Box says:
“These figures conclusively prove that the planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding. In fact, the opposite is true, councils are approving almost half a million more houses than are being built, and this gap is increasing.
“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.
“Skills [shortage] 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.”
Predictably, housebuilders have hit back at the findings. John Stewart, Director of Economic Affairs at the Home Builders Association says:
“As has been proved time and time again, housebuilders do not landbank in terms of delaying start on site once they have an ‘implementable’ planning permission.
“The vast majority of the 475,647 homes quoted by the LGA are either on sites where work has already started, or where there is not a fully ‘implementable’ permission and where it is not legal for builders to commence construction.
“Speeding up the rate at which permissions are granted ie the move from ‘granted’ to ‘implementable’ – is one of the keys to significant, sustainable increases in house building. Too many sites are stuck in the planning system, with an estimated 150,000 plots awaiting full sign off by local authorities.”
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