Housing stock in jeopardy, as unimplemented planning permission increases year-on-year

Results from a study published this month, commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA), have revealed the level of unimplemented planning permission for new build homes has been increasing year-on-year.

The LGA represents more than 370 councils across England and Wales and their latest research shows in 2012/13, planning permission had been granted on 381,390 homes that were never built. This went up to 443,265 in 2013/14 and the total now stands at 475,647.

These figures are said to highlight the requirement for investment into the residential construction industry and a possible skills shortage in this area.

Councils are now pushing for the ability to charge council tax on unbuilt developments on expiration of the original planning permission. According to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) if this were to be implemented, they warn this could have a negative impact on home building by deterring SME builders.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The imposition of Council Tax on unbuilt homes could increase the risks of bringing forward new developments by small house builders. The measure could deliver the opposite of what it hopes to achieve by reducing the number of smaller housing developments. SMEs already face serious challenges in terms of access to finance and scarcity of small sites. For small house builders to be liable for Council Tax on properties which can’t be built would add yet another layer of risk and act as a further deterrent to smaller developers. It is already commonplace for local authorities to start charging council tax on homes that are incomplete – sometimes before even the basics, such as plastering, have been finished. It seems there’s now a danger of Council Tax being charged if you do build and also charged if you can’t build. That can’t be right.”

Berry concluded: “The Government recognised that empowering SMEs by releasing smaller parcels of land could hold the key to increasing the number of homes being built – along with some local authorities which are enabling more small sites to be brought forward. If all councils were similarly bold, they would stand to benefit from faster rates of house building completion, thereby achieving their targets while also stimulating the local economy. There’s a huge convergence of interest between local authorities and SME developers, and we hope that we can work together in the future on realising what is ultimately the same end goal – to get more homes built.”

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