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One million homes given go-ahead but haven’t been built, say councils | UK News

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More than a million homes which have been granted planning permission in the past decade have not yet been built, it has been claimed.

Councils across England have given the green light to 2,564,600 units since 2009-10 – but only 1,530,680 have been completed, according to analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA).

However, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) said house builders “do not sit on land or permissions unnecessarily”, and argued too many sites given approval for new homes are “stuck in the planning system” awaiting to be fully signed off by councils.

The LGA, which represents 339 councils across England, said the number of applications rubber-stamped for the construction of new homes has nearly doubled since 2012-13, with councils approving nine in 10 applications.

It wants ministers to make it easier for local authorities to compulsory purchase land where homes remain unbuilt, and give them powers to charge developers full council tax for every unbuilt development from the point any original planning permission expires.

Councillor David Renard, LGA housing spokesman, said: “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.”

Greg Beales, campaign director at Shelter, said: “We desperately need reforms to make our land and house building system fairer for everyone. This is essential to allow councils to start building the social housing we desperately need.”

Houses under construction on a new housing development near Kempston in Bedfordshire.
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The Home Builders Federation (HBF) says too many sites given approval for new homes are ‘stuck in the planning system’ awaiting full sign off by councils

A spokesman for the HBF said: “In the current market, where demand for new homes is high, there is no reason why builders would sit on land.

“The vast majority of unbuilt permissions are either on sites where work has already started, or have only got an initial ‘granted’ consent and are navigating the complexities of the planning system to get a final ‘implementable’ permission which means where builders can start work.”

He added: “Too many sites are stuck in the planning system, with tens of thousands of plots at ‘permission granted’ stage awaiting full sign off by local authorities.

“It is vital that planning departments are sufficiently resourced and that applications are processed efficiently so that work can begin on new sites more quickly.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Last year we delivered more homes than at any time in the last 30 years and we are going even further to deliver much-needed new homes.

“This includes making the planning system faster, more responsive and more certain for all users.”

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