Builders claim councils blocking 70,000 new builds every year

The Government is already missing its housebuilding target, and now local authorities are reversing plans previously approved.

Picture of new builds being constructed.

Up to 70,000 fewer homes will be built every year as councils exploit relaxed planning rules to block new builds, it has been claimed.

Michael Gove
Michael Gove, Housing Secretary

The Government’s target to build 300,000 new homes a year was watered down in 2022 when Housing Secretary Michael Gove agreed to make it advisory rather than mandatory.

Instead, Gove later challenged councils to meet their targets or face being named and shamed.

He also said that any local authorities which delayed legitimate planning applications could lose their powers.


Planning rules were then given a major shake-up to ensure local councils allow more ‘brownfield’ development such as derelict and unused buildings, in an announcement by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Every council in England was told they had to prioritise brownfield building, with less red tape and more flexibility in applying policies.

The bar for refusing brownfield plans was also made higher for big city councils which are failing to hit their locally agreed housebuilding targets.

Another blow

But the Government’s house building aims took another blow with a total fall last year.

There was an 8% drop in new build starts in the year to the end of September, official statistics revealed.

The total was 165,990 in England, with a 4% decrease in completions to 166,310 over the same period.


Now, The Times reports that some councils are blocking developments previously approved, and up to 70,000 new homes could be affected.

Wiltshire Council overturned approvals that it had granted in November for three housing projects totalling nearly 200 houses. And, North Somerset council has set lower housebuilding targets than was previously allowed under its local plan.

Mandatory targets

The Home Builders Federation said that 60 local authorities had put on hold or withdrawn their local plans for new housebuilding.

Matthew Pennycook, the Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, said Labour would bring in “mandatory targets” for all local authorities.

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