Research: 'Phantom Homes' - Planning Permissions, Completions and Profits

By: Marcus McPhillips
Published: July 2017

Research: 'Phantom Homes' - Profits, Planning Permissions and Completions

It is clear we have become too reliant on one model of housebuilding. To stop homelessness from rising, and meet demand for new homes, we need to find new ways of building the quality, genuinely affordable homes the people in this country need. This is what Shelter is calling for, under the banner New Civic Housebuilding.

Our researchers sought to answer two principal questions to illuminate the extent to which our current approach to housebuilding is failing:

1) How have developers’ balance sheets matured over the last five years?2) Is there a shortfall between planning permissions and completions over recent years?

This research briefing provides an overview of the key findings and our method.

Key findings

  • Using the top 5 developers’ own accounts it is estimated that their UK housebuilding profits before tax and exceptional items increased by 388% between 2011-2016.

  • Profits before tax and exceptional items for the top five developers in 2011 were estimated to be £674m and in 2016 they were estimated to be £3.3bn.

  • The number of completed homes in England between 2011/12 and 2015/16 was 68% of the number of planning permissioned units between 2010/11 and 2014/15.

  • This is a ‘shortfall’ of 324,000 homes. This shortfall was particularly driven by large gaps in London and the North West.