New research published today reveals there are a record 475,647 homes in England which have been given planning permission but have yet to be built.

The study, commissioned by the Local Government Association and carried out by industry experts Glenigan, shows this bumper backlog has grown at a rapid pace over the past few years.

In 2012/13, the total of unimplemented planning permissions was 381,390 and in 2013/14 it was 443,265.

The LGA said that the figures underline the need for councils to be able to invest in building more homes and also for the skills shortage affecting the construction industry to be addressed.

Council leaders also want powers to charge developers full council tax for every unbuilt development from the point that the original planning permission expires.


The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, also said:

  • Developers are taking longer to complete work on site. It now takes 32 months, on average, from sites receiving planning permission to building work being completed – 12 months longer than in 2007/8.


  • The number of planning applications being granted planning permission in 2014/15 was 212,468 – this is up from 187,605 in 2007/08 and is higher than all previous years.
  • Councils still approve nine in every 10 applications.
  • While the construction industry’s forecasted annual recruitment need is up 54 per cent from 2013, there are 10,000 fewer construction qualifications being awarded by colleges, apprenticeships and universities.
  • There were 58 per cent fewer completed construction apprenticeships last year than in 2009.


Cllr Keith House, LGA Lib Dem Group Housing spokesman, said:

“These figures conclusively prove that the planning system is not a barrier to house building. In fact the opposite is true, councils are approving almost half a million more houses than are being built, and this gap is increasing.

“While private developers have a key role in solving our chronic housing shortage, they cannot build the 230,000 needed each year on their own. To tackle the new homes backlog and to get Britain building again, councils must have the power to invest in building new homes and to force developers to build homes more quickly.

“Skills is the greatest barrier to building, not planning. If we are to see the homes desperately needed across the country built and jobs and apprenticeships created, councils must be given a leading role to tackle our growing construction skills shortage, which the industry says is one of the greatest barriers to building.

“Devolving careers advice, post-16 and adult skills budgets and powers to local areas would allow councils, schools, colleges and employers to work together to help unemployed residents and young people develop the vital skills to build.

“New homes are badly-needed and councils want to get on with the job of building them. If we are to see a genuine end to our housing crisis we have to be given the powers to get on with it.”




  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 2013/14 and 2014/15. The analysis undertaken updated work published by the LGA in 2013, and the findings have been combined to examine unimplemented planning permissions over the last eight financial years (2007/08 – 2014/15). The analysis uses data taken from Glenigan’s database of construction projects. This data is also used by other government departments, such as the Department for Communities and Local Government, to monitor planning permissions.


2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Planning permission granted     116,896     127,579     128,617     170,339    165,903     207,539     212,468
Units completed       74,033       66,652       48,828       67,034     123,931     127,130     136,893
Units unimplemented     435,294     378,433     382,099     387,819     381,390     443,265     475,647


2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Permission to start on site (months) 7 9 9 11 12 14           14
Under construction (months) 13 15 14 14 16 18           18
From permission to completion of units (months) 21 24 24 25 27               32               32


  1. The LGA has launched a Housing Commission to set out a forward-looking vision for the future of housing and the relationship between councils and communities. This call for evidence invites councils, partners, organisations and individuals to contribute their issues, evidence, and examples of effective housing and ideas to the Commission’s Advisory Panel, made up of LGA Board members, experts and academics. We welcome all contributions before the 26 February 2016. Please send submissions of no more than 3,000 words to


  1. Local communities have been forced to spend £450 million covering the cost of planning applications in the past three years, according to LGA analysis. Nationally-set planning fees prevent councils from being able to recover the full cost of processing the 467,000 planning applications submitted on average each year –


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