475,000 houses with planning permission are waiting to be built, research shows
In a study commissioned by Local Government Association and carried out by industry experts Glenigan, results shows that a 475,647 houses in England have been awarded planning permission but have not been built. This is a record high, with a backlog of 443,265 in 2013/14, and 381,390 in 2012/13. LGA, which represents over 370 councils in England and Wales, has stated that councils need to be free to invest in property development, and raise awareness of the lack of skilled workers in this sector.
The survey shows that on-site work is taking around 12 months longer than it did in 2007/8, averaging 32 months, and the number of planning permissions being approved has risen. This means that the need for qualified workers is up 54 percent from 2013, but there are 10,000 fewer construction qualifications being awarded.
LGA Housing Spokesman Cllr Peter Box said of this crisis: “While private developers have a key role in solving our chronic housing shortage, they cannot build the 230,000 needed each year on their own… councils must be given a leading role to tackle our growing construction skills shortage, which the industry says is one of the greatest barriers to building… If we are to see a genuine end to our housing crisis we have to be given the powers to get on with it.”
Webuild and Lane to build railway in Texas
Webuild, formerly known as Salini Impregilo, has announced a US$16bn agreement to build a high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston in Texas. The project has been described as the “final step” before financial closure for the company, which Webuild said was“foreseen in the coming months”.
Passengers using the 236-mile long railway, which was developed by Texas LLC, will travel in Japanese Tokaido Shinkansen bullet trains at 200mph, making one scheduled stop at Brazos Valley near Texas A&M University. This aims to shorten the total journey time between the two terminals from almost four hours to around 90 minutes, Texas LLC claims. The company hopes commercial operations will begin in 2026.
According to Webuild, the new line will aim to target an estimated 100,000 “super commuters” who travel between the two cities by car and plane every week. Webuild said it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 101,000 tonnes per year.
This contract is an update on a preliminary design-build agreement signed with Texas Central LLC in 2019, valued at $14bn. The deal confirms the US as Webuild's single biggest market, comprising some 35% of the group’s total order backlog.
Around 17,000 new direct jobs will be created as a result of the project, as well as 20,000 indirect ones. U.S. suppliers from states aim to provide an estimated US$7.3bn of materials to construct the railway in conjunction with services provided by Italian suppliers.
Webuild and Lane will oversee the civil engineering works of the project. This includes the tracks themselves, the viaducts, and depot buildings.
Three facts about bullet trains
- The fastest commercially operated bullet train is not in Japan, but China. It is capable of reaching speeds of up to 268mph… with passengers onboard.
- Bullet trains are one of the safest ways to travel. Over 10bn passengers have been on board a bullet train and no-one has ever been killed on one.
- The “tunnel boom effect” is powerful enough to blow a freight train over. When a bullet train exits a tunnel at over 200mph, the resulting sonic boom effect is so strong, it could blow a normal freight train off its tracks.
Image: Texas Central LLC.