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Uncompleted builds rise despite planning approvals increase

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More than 423,000 homes with planning permission approved are currently waiting to be built in England and Wales, research commissioned by the Local Government Association has shown.

The number of uncompleted building works has increased 16% year-on-year, while developers are taking eight months longer to complete a new build than in 2013-14.

LGA housing spokesman Martin Tett (Con) said: “These figures prove that the planning system is not a barrier to house building. In fact the opposite is true. In the last year, councils and their communities granted twice as many planning permissions as the number of new homes that were completed.”

According to the research, carried out by Glenigan, councils approved nine out of every 10 planning applications and granted permission for 321,202 new homes in 2016-17 - a 57% increase on 2015-16, when 204,989 new homes were approved.

The LGA is calling for more powers to intervene on building sites that have received planning permission but are still waiting to be built. It is lobbying for more flexibility on compulsory purchase orders for unbuilt land and the ability to charge full council tax on unbuilt land after an original planning permission expires.

Last week, housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid told the District Councils’ Network conference he was “fed up” with developers gaming the planning system and plans to make changes.

Homes England chief executive Nick Walkley also told the same conference he wanted to “add some muscle and clout” to councils’ interaction with developers. He said he was prepared to use more compulsory purchase orders but only as a “matter of last resort”.

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