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320,000 Homes Not Built ‘Despite Residential Planning Permission’
Analysis of England’s housing crisis has revealed that more than 320,000 houses have not yet been built even though residential planning permission has been granted.
Housing charity Shelter has this month (July) revealed that in the last five years, around 68 per cent of properties with planning permission in place have been completed – with the issue especially problematic in London, where approximately one in two houses with permission are yet to be constructed, the Independent reports.
The current system as Shelter sees it encourages companies to buy land and sit on it, drip-feeding new homes out in order to ensure that prices remain high. It recommended that the government toughens up the rules and devolves powers to councils so that developers who do not build quickly enough are taxed. Planning permission could also only be granted to developers based on their track record.
“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,” head of communications, policy and campaigns with the charity Anne Baxendale said.
However, the Home Builders Federation said that significant growth has been seen in housing supply and it can take years for planning permission to be processed to the point that building can actually begin.
Policy director David O’Leary said: “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 … Oversimplified and ideologically driven analysis distracts from the efforts of builders large and small, public and private, to tackle the housing crisis.”
This comes as new research from the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) reveals that almost two-thirds of rural landowners would build new houses for rent or to buy if they were more confident in the processes of local planning authorities. It appears that many are being deterred from starting up developing schemes by the current planning system, which is deemed as being too risky, complex and inflexible.
As the CLA observes, giving smaller private developers more certainty and support to make their way through the planning system would basically bring an end to the shortage of housing in rural areas around the UK.
Ross Murray, CLA president, explained that a range of homes is required in order to reinvigorate the countryside in England and Wales to make it stronger and more sustainable. More than six million people live in rural areas and as such, planning policy should be “more positive” about the benefits that housing developments can bring, both socially and economically.
He went on to add that a quarter of CLA members are keen to build affordable homes, while 40 per cent want to build these to rent – so what is clear is that landowners in the countryside can meet people’s housing needs but they’re simply being priced out. This means that rural areas are being put at risk of serving only as commuter belts, holiday destinations and somewhere for retired people to live.
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