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Government 120,000 Homes Shy of Meeting Homebuilding Target in 2021

Builders in hi vis jackets and hard hats discussing work plans under timber frames
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The government was 120,000 homes short of meeting its target to build 300,000 homes per year in 2021, new research shows.

Property sales platform Unlatch collected data on the number of new build homes across the UK in recent years, and revealed that this figure was 39% off the government’s target. 

With just 181,810 new homes completed across the UK in 2021, this shortfall was the highest number for any government’s homebuilding target since 2007 when Labour was in government. Around 13,000 of these new homes were custom and self build houses.

The government was told by a House of Lords report in February that it will continue to fail to meet its homebuilding targets unless its planning reforms were urgently pushed through. And Lee Martin, head of UK for Unlatch, said the government’s problems implementing changes to the planning system is one of the reasons for the homebuilding shortage. 

One such proposed change was to impose mandatory housebuilding targets for councils, in an effort to hit 300,000 new homes per year, but this idea was scrapped following widespread criticism.

“The planning system has a huge part to play, as this seems to be the biggest (but not the only) ‘road block’,” said Martin.

“The current government has diagnosed the planning system as central to the failure to build enough homes, particularly where housing need is at its most severe. But the reality is that this failure is not a recent occurrence, and both the Labour and Conservative parties have failed to seriously honour their responsibility to build more homes for going on 15 years now.”

Planning Reforms Now in Motion

In May, Stuart Andrew became the 20th housing minister in 23 years and one of his reported objectives is to oversee the government’s planning reforms and meet its target of building 300,000 homes a year. 

New planning reforms were also announced in May, including ‘street votes’ to give residents more involvement in local development", and the government hopes that the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will help to speed up housing development in England.

Under the current rules, it takes an average of five years for a standard housing development to go through the planning system, the government says. 

Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms. 


He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.