The UK is missing over four million homes due to its ‘inefficient’ and ‘outdated’ planning laws, a think tank has calculated.
A new report from the Centre for Cities argues that the current case-by-case planning process based on the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act has encouraged an ‘unpredictable system’ that has slowed down housebuilding.
Entitled The Housebuilding Crisis, the think tank’s report highlights how these laws have seen UK housebuilding rates drop significantly below European averages over the last 70 years.
The report argues that the slow delivery of housing has created a backlog of at least 4.3 million homes that could have been built since the 1950s.
Even if the Government’s current target to build 300,000 homes a year is reached, the housing deficit would still take at least half a century to fill, according to Centre for Cities.
Tackling the problem sooner would require 442,000 homes per year over the next 25 years or 654,000 per year over the next decade in England alone.
The think tank proposes reforming the system from one where councils have a high level of discretion when it comes to what gets built, to one with a rules-based, flexible zoning process.
Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said:
‘This research shows that UK planning policy has held back the economy for nearly three quarters of a century, stifling growth and exacerbating a housing crisis that has blighted the country for decades.
‘Big problems require big solutions and if the Government is to clear its backlog of unbuilt homes, it must first deliver planning reform. Failure to do this will only continue to limit England’s housebuilding potential and prevent millions from getting on the property ladder.’