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Nearly half new homes in London are not built

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Almost half of new homes (46%) given planning permission in London are not being built, according to analysis by London First and Grant Thornton.

In 2014, planning permission for 54,941 homes was given in the capital but, three years later - the point at which planning permission typically runs out - only 29,701 were under construction or completed.

The 46% ‘attrition rate’ is a dramatic increase from 33% in 2016 when 26,209 homes, out of 38,877 permissions granted in 2013, were under construction or completed.

Despite this, the number of planning applications being lodged with London boroughs is increasing – nearly 79,500 were submitted in 2017, which is a 13% increase on almost 69,500 applications the previous year. 2017’s figures are also almost double the 36,638 applications submitted in 2010. However, the number of planning permissions granted fell for the fourth consecutive year, and have gone from 54,941 in 2014 to 48,024 in 2017.

The research comes as the government’s review into the slow rate of housebuilding gathers pace.

It also follows the launch of the mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s (Lab) plan to build about 65,000 homes each year.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said: “Every year tens of thousands of new homes fall by the wayside, and the ongoing slide in planning permissions will only make things worse. London’s housing pipeline appears to be cracked and, unless we get to grips with the housebuilding hold-ups, generations of Londoners will be priced out of a place to call home.”

The research showed an upturn in the number of affordable homes getting planning permission in 2017. They now make up 30% of all permissions and almost twice the number seen in 2010. Looking at completions, 7,510 affordable homes were built in 2017 which is up from 2,379 at the start of the decade.

The research also showed London’s outer boroughs (those in Transport for London’s zones 5 and 6), which make up more than half of the capital’s land, built 3,278 new homes in 2017 compared with 12,943 homes built in central London (in TfL’s zones 1 and 2).

Mr Khan’s plan proposes focusing building new homes near town centres and transport hubs, as well as small sites.

Ian Tasker, director of government and infrastructure advisory at Grant Thornton, said: “To stand a chance of effectively tackling this problem we need to make better use of land and increase housing density; even London’s densest boroughs have low densities compared to cities such as Paris and Madrid. Our research has found that an area’s housing supply was significantly boosted by investment into transport infrastructure and to encourage further housebuilding we need to see this type of investment prioritised across London.”

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