One million UK homes with planning permission still not built


More than one million homes with planning consent in the past decade are yet to be built, according to figures from the Local Government Association

The number of planning permissions granted for new homes in the UK has almost doubled since 2012/13 with councils approving 9 in 10 applications. 2,564,600 units have been granted permission by councils since 2009/10 while only 1,530,680 have been completed.

The housing backlog

While in some cases there will be a time lag between planning permission being granted and homes being built, new build completions have only increased by half as much in that time.

Optimistically, the total of completions last year were the highest in any single year in the past decade. Alongside the government, councils recognise the shortage of housing and the need to build more homes. However, the LGA said the backlog of unbuilt homes shows the planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding.

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 our national housing shortage.

Submission to the Treasury

As part of its submission ahead of next month’s Budget, the LGA is 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.

Councillor David Renard, LGA housing spokesman, said: The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding.

“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.

“Councils need powers to tackle our housing backlog and step in where a site with planning permission lies dormant and housebuilding 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.”


  1. David Renard, LGA housing spokesmans comment: ”The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding.” Comes from cloud cukoo land. No wonder we have such problems! But it’s not just the planning system itself, all the national and local government ‘add on’s’ add to the delays. There will also ALWAYS be a small percentage given consent which are NOT immediately buildable, for very wide reasons including Planning conditions to be met, Legal, Flood protection, Social Housing requirements, Accommodation works, Environmental requirements, Archaeological surveys, etc. etc the list gets ever longer. Indeed the interference of LPA’s renders many schemes UNVIABLE. NOBODY will start bulding a project that’s been rendered unviable by planning conditions etc.
    The Planning system and it’s surrounding provisions are ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE for the supply shortage.
    I’m a professional working flat out trying to overcome all the red tape hampering implementation of the few schemes that gain approval in the first place (MANY more should). The industry does BRILLIANTLY getting such a high percentage built DESPITE ‘the planning system’.! I’m pushing hard and waiting for a good number to overcome all the hurdles PUT UP BY OTHERS as I write (i.e. a few pointless nature surveys have to wait till April). But mostly I tear my hear out at the stupidities and ignorance of cause and effect. particulary reading misguided comments like Renards, seemingly typical of most from LPA’s.
    There are easy ways to get far better designed schemes implemented far more quickly, but it seems it may almost need LPA’s to be ABOLISHED to get the right intellect applied to do so.

  2. So – The planning system is not a barrier to new homes being built because more than a million homes with planning permission have not been built?

    Perhaps some decent research into why they have not been built would be more enlightening.
    For instance., my company has obtained consent only to find that development cannot go ahead because of Council charges such as CIL and SANG which are applied without any understanding that small schemes pretty much anywhere beyond 35 miles from London are completely unviable when these Council rakes offs are made.

    As for the planning system not being a stumbling block- well the LGA would say that wouldn’t they. The truth is that most Council planning departments are in a complete shambles, are unable to take decisions, interfere radically in orchestrating the architects designs to a negative outcome and engage in all sorts of tricks to avoid falling beyond time restrictions to issue consent. Our experience is that the planning system is pretty much broken and developers are expected to pay for pre-planning advice that is often completely worthless and contradicted at the formal planning process.


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