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House building backlog reaches 400,000

There are nearly 400,000 homes in England with planning permission that have still not been built. 

Research commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) - and carried out by Glenigan - has found little progress has been made in reducing the building backlog from the previous year. Indeed, the figure has only fallen by around 6,000.

As well as this stagnation, there are now fewer planning applications being put through and it is taking longer for the construction work to be completed on-site. Councils are concerned about the long-term housebuilding recovery if this pattern continues. 

Councillor Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA's environment and housing board, said the situation is "worrying" and it proves that the "housing market is not yet on the road to long-term recovery". 

"While there has been progress made, this risks being undermined if we do not find a way to ensure developers keep up with demand," he added.

It now takes an average of 27 months from the date sites receive planning permission to the building work being completed, which is two months longer than last year and seven months longer than in 2007-08.

This is despite the fact councils are approving nearly nine out of ten building applications, which demonstrates there is a disconnect in the process somewhere along the way. 

Mr Jones remarked the real challenge is making sure houses get built, especially as the government has rolled out its Help to Buy scheme, which is designed to make it easier for people to get on the property ladder. If more houses are not constructed, he is worried a bubble may be created.

"Government has an unrivalled opportunity to create jobs, provide tens of thousands of homes and help the economy without having to find a single extra penny. New homes are badly-needed and councils want to get on with building them," he stated.  

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