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.
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.