More than 423,000 homes have been giving planning permission but are still waiting to be built

More than 423,000 homes have been giving planning permission but are still waiting to be built, according to new research published today by the Local Government Association.

The study, commissioned by the LGA and carried out by industry experts Glenigan, shows the backlog has grown by almost 16 per cent in the last year.

In 2015/16, the total number of unimplemented planning permissions in England and Wales was 365,146, rising to 423,544 in 2016/17.

The figures also show that developers are taking longer to build new homes. It now takes 40 months, on average, from schemes receiving planning permission to building work being completed – eight months longer than in 2013/14.

The planning system is not a barrier to building. Councils are approving nine in every 10 planning applications, and granted planning permission in 2016/17 for 321,202 new homes – up from 204,989 new homes in 2015/16.

The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says the new analysis underline the need for councils to be given greater powers to take action on unbuilt land which has planning permission.

It says councils need powers to act on uncompleted schemes, including making it easier to compulsory purchase land where homes remain unbuilt, and to be able to charge developers full council tax for every unbuilt development from the point that the original planning permission expires.

The Government should also accept the calls of the LGA and Treasury Select Committee and scrap the cap on council borrowing so that councils can quickly build additional new homes that are affordable.

Cllr James Newport,  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.

“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 council homes, as recognised by the influential Treasury Select Committee last month.

“Our national housing shortage is one of the most pressing issues we face. While private developers have a key role to play in solving our housing crisis, they cannot meet the 300,000 house-building target set by the Government their own.

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


  1. The LGA commissioned Glenigan to undertake an analysis of the extent and scope of unimplemented residential planning permissions in England and Wales in financial years 2015/16 and 2016/17. The analysis uses data taken from Glenigan’s database of construction projects. This data is also used by other government departments, such as Communities and Local Government, to monitor planning permissions.
  2. The analysis estimates the number of uncompleted units on sites which have started building. Previous analysis commissioned by the LGA in 2015 assumed all units to be uncompleted until the whole scheme was completed.
  3. Method document and full set of data available on request. Please note data is broken down by regions and not individual towns or cities.