A third of homes with planning permission yet to be built, a charity found


Almost one in three homes green-lit to be developed in England during the past five years have not been done, Shelter has discovered.

More than 320,000 houses have not been established despite having been awarded residential planning permission, according to an analysis by the housing charity, which stated ordinary working families are carrying the brunt of the issue of “phantom homes”.

An approximated 68% of homes with planning permission have been finished over the past five years, Shelter estimated.

It stated the predicament is particularly acute in London, where about one in two homes with permission have not been made.

But the Home Builders Federation (HBF) said housing equipment had shown a significant increase, and planning stoppages mean permissions can take years to prepare to the point where building can start.

Shelter added a one-year time lag between a home being provided with the go-ahead and the build being completed when making its computations. It said if it had not allotted for a one-year time gap, its conclusions for the number of homes not built would have been bigger.

Shelter used numbers from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) among other information to make its estimates.

The charity declared the country’s house-building system prompts developers to sit on land and drip out new houses, to keep costs high.

It said the Government must “get tough” and give powers to councils to tax those who do not accomplish fast enough, as well as taking progressive policies outlined in the new housing white paper, such as giving planning permission to developers based on their track history.

A spokesman for the DCLG said: “The Government has been clear that we want to tackle barriers to stalled developments, so we are investing £2.3 billion to deliver the infrastructure needed to support new homes.

“We know the build out of sites remains slow, that’s why in our housing white paper we’ve set out a number measures to speed up delivery including a new housing delivery test to ensure new homes get built on time and give councils a range of tools to make this happen.”

Anne Baxendale, head of communications, policy and campaigns at Shelter, said: “House-builders are trickling out a handful of poor-quality homes at a snail’s pace, meaning there are simply not enough affordable homes and ordinary working families are bearing the brunt.”

David O’Leary, policy director at the HBF, said: “Housing supply is up by more than 50% in just three years, with the overwhelming contribution coming from national house builders.

“While headline planning permission data is growing at unprecedented rates, a reflection of builders’ intention to build more in the coming years, the majority of this land is not at a stage at which it can yet be built on.

“Delays in the planning system mean permissions can take years to process to the point where construction can start, especially on very large sites with complex infrastructure requirements.

“The cost and risk involved in securing planning permission has hampered the ability of small firms to grow, with large companies dedicating significant resource to navigating the process.”

He said many “of these so-called ‘phantom homes'” will be plots on sites where construction is under way.

Mr O’Leary said: “Oversimplified and ideologically driven analysis distracts from the efforts of builders large and small, public and private, to tackle the housing crisis.”