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LGA Confirms that Number of Unbuilt new homes With Planning Permission Is Rising

Research from Glenigan construction group and the Local Government Association indicates that nearly half a million new homes in England and Wales have yet to be built although planning permission has been obtained. This figure is 25% higher than it was five years ago.

These findings increase the pressure that housebuilders are under to solve the country’s housing crisis. There are presently 475,647 new properties that have received planning permission but are still awaiting construction. It’s a staggering figure that is more than three times the number of houses built in the UK in the previous financial year.

Shadow housing minister John Healey said that the government’s strategies for solving the housing problems are not working. He pointed out that the Tory ministers seem to believe that the crisis can be overcome by eliminating the planning rules and ensuring that local people are consulted.

Calling this mindset “nonsense”, Mr Healey said that after five years of this strategy, home ownership is currently at the lowest in a generation and fewer homes were built than under any peacetime government since the 1920s.

The Local Government Association (LGA) found that developers are taking longer to complete their duties. From the receipt of planning permission to work being completed currently takes around 32 months, which is 12 months longer than the same process took in 2008.

To expedite the process, council leaders want builders to remit council tax on developments that remain unbuilt after the planning permission expires.

Cllr Peter Box, housing spokesperson for LGA, said that the report proves that the planning system does not obstruct housebuilding. Although councils are approving nearly half a million more properties than are being constructed, the gap is widening.

Cllr Box said that a lack of skilled workers is the issue, not planning. Councils need to be given a guiding role to tackle the increasing scarcity of construction skills, which has been identified as one of the biggest obstacles to building.

Housebuilders disputed the findings, insisting that work was in progress on over half the sites, and that other sites did not have planning permission that could be implemented.

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John Stewart, Home Builders Federation director of economic affairs, stated that once a planning permission can be implemented, housebuilders do not delay construction. He pointed out that the majority of the homes pointed out by the LGA were either on sites where it was not legal for construction to commence, or where work had already been started.

Mr. Stewart added that improving the rate at which permissions are granted will resulted in sustainable increases in housebuilding.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said that construction is already in process on more than half the properties that have planning permission, and there has been an increase of 25% in the number of new houses completed over the past year.

He pointed out that the government is working with developers to ensure that all needed skills are available, with 18,000 apprenticeships initiated in 2014.

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