The Association said it is inevitable that some greenfield sites will be needed to build 270,000 new homes each year.
CLA East regional chief Nicola Currie said: "Government statistics suggest there are more than 250,000 long-term empty properties in England. However, research by the National Housing and Planning Unit suggests fewer than 6,000 exist in high-demand areas.
"Research has also shown a large proportion of the existing 400,000-plus planning approvals cannot be used for housing because the high clean-up costs makes them economically unviable.
"There is a lack of viability on brownfield sites in lower value urban areas. We want local planning authorities to be realistic when calculating their five-year deliverable supply of housing. This means not placing excessive emphasis on allocated sites that are unlikely to be developed.
"It also means encouraging Local and Neighbourhood Plans that allow incremental housing growth in rural areas and deliver rural sustainability. However, the additional cost of paying the Community Infrastructure Levy may make smaller rural developments unviable."
Mrs Currie warned the Government risked increasing the North-South divide with its lack of strategic thinking on planning.
She said: "Mr Boles is clear that the majority of new housing development needed would be in the South East of England. But inflation-busting rail fare rises are actively discouraging some people from moving further afield to take advantage of lower land and housing costs."