THERE’S over a million homes out there that don’t exist, despite planning permission having been granted for their construction, says the Local Government Association (LGA).
New analysis from the organisation claims that since 2009/10, councils have granted planning permission for around 2.5 million homes, but in the same period only around 1.5 million have been completed.
“The planning system is not a barrier to house building,” said Councillor David Renard, the LGA’s housing spokesperson. “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.”
According to the LGA, the number of planning permissions granted for new homes has almost doubled since 2012/13, with councils approving nine in 10 applications.
While in some cases there will be a time lag between permission being granted and homes being built, the organisation says that new build completions have only increased by half as much in that time.
However, completions last year were the highest in any single year in the past decade.
The LGA is calling on the Government to use its forthcoming planning white paper to give councils powers to take action on unbuilt land which has planning permission.
This includes making it easier to compulsory purchase land where homes remain unbuilt, and to be able to charge developers full council tax for every unbuilt development from the point that the original planning permission expires.
With the right powers and funding, the LGA said councils can play a leading role in helping the Government tackle the national housing shortage.
As part of its submission to the Treasury ahead of next month’s Budget, the LGA is also calling for the Government to reform Right to Buy (RTB), by allowing councils to keep all of the receipts of homes sold under RTB to replace them and to have the flexibility to set discounts locally.
“Councils need powers to tackle our housing backlog and step in where a site with planning permission lies dormant and house building has stalled,” Renard added.
“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.”