I have an aspiration to build my own home. This is likely the result of an (arguably) mis-spent part of my youth watching too much Grand Designs. I make do building little houses with my daughters Duplo, but that can only scratch the itch for so long. This aspiration is shared by many across the Country, and one supported by Iceni, as a member of the National Custom and Self-Build Association (NaCSBA). Currently, this dream is typically only achieved by those who are more affluent, with the average self-builder earning approximately 2.5x the average household income. This is something the NaCSBA is keen to change, making the route accessible to more people.
In recent years, and thanks to NaCSBA’s lobbying, the Government has continued to support and encourage custom and self-build housing, such as the ‘Right to Build’; Council’s must now keep a register of all those interested in a custom and self-build plot and permit a plot for them within three years of them joining the register. Financial support to the tune of over £2.2 billion has been made available for those wanting to build their own home. The Self-Commissioned Homes Delivery Unit has been created within Homes England, and further support is proposed through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) Planning Reforms to “reframe national policy to support self- and custom-house builders” – although the detail of such reframing is to be provided ‘in due course’.
Despite this support from Government, just 7% of homes in the UK are built via self- and custom build, which NaCSBA reports is the lowest known percentage of self-commissioned homes in the world, with just 13,000 per year being delivered. Of the 10 Local Authorities here in Greater Manchester none are meeting their statutory requirement, with plots for just 8% of those on registers having been approved. Some authorities have no plots permitted at all. At the current rate of permissions, registers will soon be rivalling the waiting list for a season ticket at Manchester United (which recently closed when it hit 300,000!).
In Iceni’s own experience, custom and self-build housing brings many benefits, which are often overlooked: they create a unique character; they have a higher take-up rate of renewable energy sustainable technologies and modern methods of construction and have lower carbon emissions than conventional housing stock; they provide genuine choice for the end user, enabling them to better future proof the properties; and they diversify housing stock.
The proposed LURB Planning Reforms will, in effect, result in a lesser weight being given to the provision of market housing in decision taking. Whereas the continued support through statute and policy, the outstanding need, and chronic undersupply of custom and self-build houses is so clear that it should continue to be given considerable weight. Such a needs case can help unlock smaller and trickier parcels of land but could also be applied to large scale development, whether in whole or in part. The provision of custom and self-build homes was a contributing positive factor in the Colney Heath case, as well as others, and the largest Custom and Self Build development approved to date in the UK stands at 1,900 units and is in Oxfordshire.
If, like me, you’d like to keep the dream alive and see more custom and self-build homes coming forward, and/or would like to know about how custom and self-build homes could enhance your development, get in touch. We’d be happy to discuss how we can make it happen.
Anyone interested in self-building should sign their local self-build register, find yours at NaCSBA’s www.selfbuildportal.org.uk