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Councils demand powers to act on 400,000 unbuilt homes

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Councils have renewed calls for powers to take action over stagnant land, as new research showed the number of UK homes granted planning permission but not completed had broken the 400,000 mark

A study commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that 423,544 residential units had unimplemented planning permission in March 2017.

This was up from 365,146 a year earlier, according to the report carried out by construction economics unit Glenigan.

Councils have demanded powers to take action, including easier compulsory purchase and the right to charge developers full council tax once planning permission expires.

LGA housing spokesman Martin Tett said: ‘No one can live in a planning permission. Councils need greater powers to act where housebuilding has stalled.

‘To tackle the new homes backlog and to get the country building again, councils also need the freedom to borrow and invest in desperately needed new homes.

‘We have no chance of housing supply meeting demand unless councils can get building again.’

More than 100,000 of the non-completed consented homes were in London in March 2017. There were more than 60,000 in the North West but fewer than 11,000 in Wales.

Meanwhile, separate figures from Glenigan show that the UK private housing application pipeline is growing rapidly.

Glenigan found that the number of proposals for private housing surged by 23 per cent to 166,341 units last year.

With an 8 per cent rise in the number of units in applications for social housing over the same timeframe, the total pipeline of new homes leapt by more than a fifth to 192,242 units.

Glenigan economics director Allan Wilen said: ‘We expect the underlying level of project starts to decrease by around 3 per cent over the course of 2018 as housebuilders prioritise building out developments in fewer sites.

‘However, the development pipeline remains strong. Approvals have been rising at a healthy rate and the increase in applications in 2017 that this research shows suggests housebuilders remain relatively positive despite a more fragile near-term outlook due to uncertainties over interest rate rises and house prices.’ 

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