In October 2008, the SME housebuilder sector was decimated. It was not pretty, with 1-in-3 construction firms going bust and a 58% decline in the construction of new homes. The recovery process took years. Over a decade later, and the sector is having to grapple with new seismic changes in the form of lockdowns, disruptions to supply chains, and the labour risks associated with us leaving the EU. So, is there any good news out there? And, can the planning process help?
Custom-build is one example. Government has been consistent in its policy support for the sector. The requirement to plan for those people wanting to build their own homes is specifically referenced in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016) also requires Local Planning Authorities to maintain a register of demand. Support is also found in the draft White Paper. All helpful stuff.
Iceni Projects has been fortunate to work on many custom-build projects. On virtually all, the reception received by the local community is overwhelmingly positive. Consultation events have, at times, felt more like a sales and marketing initiative, with people turning up wanting to reserve a plot. And, that’s even before planning permission is granted.
For the developers amongst you, there are now specific custom-build lending streams available, and projects have the added benefit of not requiring affordable housing.
For the Local Authority decision-makers amongst you, custom-build also offers the following benefits:
- It can provide an important contribution to housing output;
- It can unlock smaller parcels of land which may not be suitable for larger developers;
- It protects / creates local jobs and strengthens local supply chains;
- Has a higher take-up rate of sustainable technologies;
- It offers choice and provides opportunities to provide a mix of homes;
- With no developers’ profit payable to a housebuilder and the chance for buyers to do some of the work themselves, self-build can provide houses at lower cost;
- It can empower local residents as they can determine the form of the housing; and
- It diversifies the provision of new homes by providing a genuine alternative to the dominance of the traditional volume house-builders.
So, whilst the coming months show no signs of letting up in terms of disruption, the SME sector should increasingly pivot towards custom-build. Evidence shows there is latent demand for custom-build housing, with the industry currently delivering 12,000 homes per annum. The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) believe this number could increase to 73,500 by 2025, as now more than ever; people want to live in homes that are high-quality, well planned and support flexible working.
To see a selection of custom-build schemes that Iceni Projects has worked on, please click here.