The Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed that 2,564,600 units have secured planning by councils since 2009/10, however only 1,530,680 have been completed.
Planning permissions approved for new homes have almost doubled since 2012/13, with councils approving nine in 10 applications.
New-build completions have only increased by half as much in that time, although, encouragingly, completions last year were the highest in any single year in the past decade.
The LGA claimed that the backlog of unbuilt homes showed that the planning system was not a barrier to housebuilding.
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It is now calling on the government to use its forthcoming planning whitepaper to give councils powers to take action on unbuilt land which has planning.
As part of its submission to the treasury ahead of next month’s budget, the LGA is also calling for the government to reform Right to Buy.
Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesman, said: “The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding.
“The number of homes granted planning permission has far outpaced the number of homes being built.
“If we are to solve our housing shortage, councils need to be able to get building again and resume their role as major builders of affordable homes.”