CONCERNS have been raised about the availability of affordable homes across Wigan borough with almost 13,000 houses with planning permission remain unbuilt, writes Local Democracy Reporter Niall Griffiths.

Last year there were 1,350 net additional homes built in the borough – the highest since the height of the housing boom in 2006.

But the number of affordable homes has only twice exceeded housebuilding targets set by Wigan council since 2011, with bosses saying supply is "not where we want it to be".

Hundreds of these homes, which include affordable rent, shared ownership and social housing properties, have been promised on sites in varying stages of development.

As of April 1 this year, there were 7,206 undeveloped houses on brownfield sites and 5,152 on greenfield sites.

One councillor described the situation as a "dismal state of affairs".

A further 10,000 homes could also be delivered at 125 previously developed but disused sites being advertised on Wigan Council’s brownfield land register.

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Marie Bintley, assistant director of growth and housing, told the council’s confident places scrutiny committee: “The supply is not where we want to be.

“There are a significant number of sites with planning permissions that haven’t come forward.”

When asked if there was anything the council could do to accelerate development on these sites, Ms Bintley said planning permission could only be revoked at the cost of compensation.

The committee meeting on September 18 heard that the National Planning Policy Framework allows developers to submit viability assessments with their planning applications.

It is in these independently assessed reports where it is often argued that developers would lose money if they were to deliver the affordable homes set out in section 106 agreements with the council.

Ms Bintley said: “With brownfield sites there can be constraints, and very often the development and economics don’t stack up.”

Councillor Dane Anderton claimed that affordable homes were ‘always’ negotiated down by developers.

He added: “It’s a dismal state of affairs, these are homes for disadvantaged people.

“Why aren’t we pushing back?”

But committee chair councillor John O’Brien said that he had seen Wigan Council "take on barons" and end up "losing a lot of money".

He said: “We have a problem but at the same time we have to live within the legal parameters.”