No planning permission for more than a million earmarked homes

The Local Government Association has claimed that more than a million homes on land earmarked for development by councils are yet to be brought forward by developers for planning permission.

These are homes on sites which do not yet have planning permission but have formally been identified as suitable for housing by local councils through the local plan process. Local plans are a set of planning policies drawn up by councils, which allocate the number of homes to be built in local areas in consultation with local communities.

The analysis by the LGA estimates that more than a third of the 2,676,200 homes allocated in current local plans in England have not even been submitted into the planning system. This amounts to an additional 4.4 years’ worth of housing supply, in addition to those already granted planning permission and schemes under construction.

Council leaders say that this is further evidence that councils are allocating enough land to deliver a housing pipeline for many years ahead and that planning is not a barrier to building the homes the country desperately needs. The LGA is calling for the government to introduce measures to tackle a ‘broken’ housing delivery system, and to give councils the powers to incentivise developers to bring allocated sites forward without delay, or intervene where development has stalled.

The government is proposing wide-ranging reforms to the planning system in England, including changes to its housing numbers algorithm which sets councils housing targets. Yet the LGA says this makes no sense when councils have limited tools to compel developers into building homes with the right infrastructure at the scale and speed necessary to meet the government’s ambition of 300,000 new homes a year.

Studies show that councils subsidise planning applications by about a third and continue to approve nine in 10 planning applications. Additionally, more than a million homes already given planning permission in the last decade have also not yet been built

David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said: “Councils are committed to working with government to see an efficient, well-resourced planning system that ensures high-quality affordable homes are built where they are most needed, supported by the right infrastructure. However, there is no evidence that the planning system is holding up developments. Our research shows the opposite, with over a million homes earmarked for development that are yet to be brought forward by developers.

“This is another example of our broken housing delivery system, and shows why councils need to be given the powers to ensure desperately-needed homes are getting built in a swift and timely manner. The recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will need stability and certainty in planning. This can only be achieved through a locally-led planning system where communities have a proper say over developments in their local area.”