Over 1m homes with planning permission not built in past decade

Elliot Chappell

Over one million homes granted planning permission in the past decade have not been built, new research shows – disproving the claim that local planning departments are at fault, Labour says.

The Local Government Association has examined government data disclosing the number of permissions granted for new homes and completions since 2009/10.

The research revealed that 2,564,600 units have been granted planning permission – but only 1,530,680 have been completed in the same period.

Commenting on the figures, LGA housing spokesperson David Renard 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.”

The data shows that planning permissions granted for new homes has doubled since 2012/13, with councils approving nine out of ten applications.

Renard added: “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.”

Labour’s housing spokesperson John Healey commented on the latest release from the government, saying: “These figures give lie to the government’s claim that council planning departments are the problem in getting more new homes built.

“Since 2010, Conservative ministers have loosened planning rules to give big developers a freer hand but they’re still not building the homes the country needs.”

At the last election, Labour pledged to build 100,000 council homes and 50,000 housing association properties each year for the next five years.

Healey said: “After ten years of Tory failure on housing, the case for change is clear and the government should give councils tough ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ controls over land with planning permission and stronger powers to require mixed developments to meet local housing needs.

“Labour would also back councils to build at scale again, as part of a plan to build a million genuinely affordable homes.”

The LGA is calling for the reform of Right to Buy ahead of the upcoming Tory budget, asking that councils be allowed to keep the receipts to build new social homes.

The local government membership body will also ask that local authorities be granted the power to set discounts for the scheme locally.

A freedom of information request last year found that 40% of council homes sold in London under Right to Buy are now being rented out by private landlords.

In the past year, taking into consideration demolitions, Right to Buy sales and conversions, there was a net loss of 17,000 homes in the country.

There are 1.15 million households on council housing waiting lists and the number of families in insecure private rented accommodation increased by 7% last year alone.

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