New research reveals the scale of England's unbuilt homes crisis

Nearly two million unbuilt and deliverable homes in England have highlighted the 'ongoing missed opportunity' to solve England's housing crisis, according to STAA research.

Related topics:  Construction,  Property,  housing crisis
Property | Reporter
29th November 2023
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"We know there’s a housing crisis, what we can’t understand is why no one’s doing anything about it. Homes are just waiting to be built, but housebuilding in this country continues at a snail’s pace"
- Andy Fenner - STAA

Analysis of council documents shows that planning authorities themselves have identified 1,992,718 achievable new dwellings — and councils say 1,515,991 of these new homes could be delivered within five years, an uplift of 6% on current housing stock.

The research was carried out by the Short Term Accommodation Association amid concerns the holiday let industry has become a scapegoat for housebuilding failures. This has resulted in the threat of short-term rental regulation in England, which is currently the subject of a Government consultation.

The ten councils with the largest pipeline of homes say they could deliver 215,043 all by themselves. London councils have identified 331,712 deliverable new homes.

The STAA believes that, while a registration scheme for all tourist accommodation providers would be positive, the proposals, which include a planning requirement for short-term lets, have been borne out of attempts to distract voters from the inability of national and local government to ensure enough new housing is provided fast enough.

The total pipeline of potential new homes dwarfs the numbers actually being built, with only 178,010 completed across England last year3. The total number of homes in England is 25.2 million — but 676,304 of these are vacant (248,149 of them long-term).

The STAA analysed 294 Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments (SHLAAs), Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessments (HELAA) or their equivalents. The supply of new homes they identify includes those with and without planning permission that are seen as ‘deliverable’ by the authority.

Councils are required to regularly demonstrate how they plan to meet local housing needs over the coming five years and beyond.

This year the Government conducted a consultation on a registration scheme and new planning requirements for short-term lets in England. The STAA is calling for a registration scheme for all hotel and lodging operators, which would provide the basis for any future hospitality tourism tax.

The short-term rental sector contributed £27.7 billion to the UK economy in 2021, directly supporting 94,000 jobs, according to Oxford Economics.

Top 10 planning authorities identifying the highest numbers of deliverable homes — England-wide and England excluding London. A Top 10 table for London can be found in the notes to editors.

Andy Fenner, CEO of the STAA, said: “We know there’s a housing crisis, what we can’t understand is why no one’s doing anything about it. Homes are just waiting to be built, but housebuilding in this country continues at a snail’s pace.

“Meanwhile one of the most vibrant parts of the tourism industry is taking the blame and that’s a mistake. Councils routinely talk about housing need but that doesn’t address the fundamental feature of a housing crisis, which is that there aren’t enough homes at affordable prices.

"Only housebuilding and a proper remedy for the scourge of empty homes will give the country what it needs, which is new supply. Only then will it be seen that to solve the housing crisis, we don’t need to disrupt one of the most exciting new parts of the tourism economy?

“Singling out holiday let industry is a move against tourism itself and we look forward to forging a better way ahead with the next government. It would be a real shame, and a blow to tourism itself, if England followed Scotland’s example, where holiday let owners who bring both money and jobs into local economies are now being punished and deterred from operating.”

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