How new self-build duty will affect councils’ planning strategies

The government has proposed changes to the planning system to boost the number of self- and custom-built homes. However, the new measures could place new burdens on overstretched planning teams.

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Industry figures indicate that the UK is behind other Western nations when it comes to promoting new self- or custom-built housing and the new self-build planning guidelines aim to change that.

Figures from the National Custom & Self Build Association (NACSBA) also show that the number of self-build completions in the UK has dropped sharply from a pre-recession peak.

The government, however, is keen to see numbers rise again as a way of helping to ease the country’s chronic housing shortage. Planning minister Brandon Lewis has spoken of the government’s “commitment to double the number of custom-build and self-build homes by 2020”; the NACSBA’s current estimated annual figure for the UK is around 12,500. To achieve this ambitious aim, ministers have recently proposed a series of changes to the planning system.

In 2014, the coalition government launched a consultation entitled Right to Build: supporting custom and self-build – with “custom build” referring to homes built to owners’ specification rather than by the owners themselves.

One of the key measures, a requirement for local planning authorities to keep registers of those who express an interest in self- and custom build for their area, was introduced last March in the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015. The act places a duty on councils to “have regard to” their register when carrying out their planning responsibilities.

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NFB and RIBA respond to Budget 2014

Following on from the Budget statement 2014 which took place yesterday, here is a summary of the responses from both RIBA and the National Federation of Builders.

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The National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomed the chancellor’s continued recognition of construction and house building in the 2014 Budget statement. The £500 million Builders Finance Fund aimed at unblocking finance for small developers should help support existing government measures to boost small business finance such as the British Business Bank and help small builders to build.

The extension of Help to Buy, new measures to support self-build and the announcement that Ebbsfleet is set to be the first modern garden city are positive signs that government is supporting the construction industry and therefore the wider economy. However, the chancellor shied away from taking bolder steps to get Britain building such as including major housing projects under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) planning regime.

Continued positive economic growth, as highlighted in the OBR forecasts, should help unlock further private investment and ensure a sustainable recovery in the construction industry but further planning reform and measures to boost retrofit were missed opportunities. The NFB hopes that all political parties will recognise the value of construction to the economy as they prepare their 2015 manifestos as it is a sector that generates £2.84 for every £1 invested.

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Grant Shapps joins forces with industry to take self build to the masses

Grant Shapps has today welcomed a new action plan for the self build industry that he says could be the turning point that takes it to the masses.

Meeting with the National Self Build Association (NaSBA) – the representatives of the self-build industry – Mr Shapps said that for too long obstacles have led to the UK having one of the lowest proportions of new homes built by self-builders in Europe, and that he wanted to see the self build industry become a mainstream housing option.

Earlier this year, Mr Shapps asked NaSBA and other industry experts to work with his officials to prepare an action plan to boost the number of self-builders across the country, and address the common barriers aspiring self-builders face.

Today they presented him with their findings on tackling the main challenges holding the self-build industry back: the availability of land and finance, lack of support from industry for new self builders and the impact of regulation.

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How housing associations could make land available for self build

Earlier this month, housing minister Grant Shapps revealed the Government’s ambitions to turn self-build into a mainstream housing option.

At this year’s Grand Designs Live event he called on housing associations and councils to offer up land to self-build communities to drive the ambition forward.

He said a working group he commissioned in February to look at the existing barriers to self-build will report back in the Summer.

Here, Raymond Connor, CEO, BuildStore Financial Services, part of the working group, analyses how housing associations and councils could support the housing minister’s vision.

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Government pledge more land for Self Builders

SELF build and renovation specialists, BuildStore, has welcomed an announcement by Minister for Housing, Grant Shapps, in which he unveiled new measures to support people wanting to build their own homes, adding that self building “should be an option for all”.

In a speech at the Grand Designs Live Show in London today (3rd May 2011), Mr Shapps said he wanted the UK’s self build rates to catch up with Europe’s and to become a mainstream housing option.

Further to his announcement about the Government’s new ‘Build Now, Pay Later’ scheme last month, Mr Shapps said he wants public and private land to be made available for individual self builders, and community self build schemes. He called on housing associations and local authorities to show more support for the self build sector, and private landowners and investors to release more land to the growing self build community. He said he would soon reveal the first publicly owned sites to be made available to housebuilders with plots exclusively for self-builders.

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