Self build homes 'held back' by government

Government inertia and a lack of progress are holding back a major scaling up of custom and self-build homes, according to MP Richard Bacon.

Related topics:  Construction,  Property,  development,  self build
Property | Reporter
17th July 2023
Self Build 711
"The problem is the legislation has no teeth. There is little you can do to penalise authorities except to call them out"

The Conservative MP for South Norfolk said he was disappointed at the lack of progress since the 2016 Housing and Planning Act where the government pledged to double the number of self-commissioned homes over two years.

His comments follow the government's response last month to his original independent review on the scaling up of custom and self-build homes published two years ago.

He explained: "Too many local authorities are yet to fully engage with the benefits to them and their communities of enabling more of this approach to housing delivery. Local authority resources too often are too stretched to invest in a new approach to housing delivery."

Since 2016 local authorities must maintain a ‘right to build register' of individuals and groups who would like to construct their own homes. This allows certain community organisations to bring forward smaller-scale development on a specific site without the need for planning permission.

Public awareness about custom and self-build is low

Mr Bacon said: "Local authorities continue to fail to promote their right to build registers, which can be difficult to find and access. Most lack any clear explanation as to the duty placed on authorities under the legislation and some have even been found to omit any mention of the obligation placed on authorities."

Just 39 out of England's 330 local authorities have adopted the right to build in their local plans despite a 35% rise in the number of individuals and groups registering an interest.

On top of this, the number of permissions granted on serviced plots has dropped from 7,720 in 2019-20 to 6,374 in 2021-22, despite 64,374 individuals and groups registering an interest.

Mr Bacon said not enough had been done to make land available through a plot-to-rent scheme or a small sites programme using local development orders and added that despite Home England's new self-build unit, there was an absence of specific commitments to the recommendations in his original review.

National Custom and Self Build Association's communications manager Duncan Hayes said: "The problem is the legislation has no teeth. There is little you can do to penalise authorities except to call them out."

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders viewed self and custom build as an important route to market for SMEs, at a time when mainstream housebuilding was shrinking.

A spokesperson for the housing and levelling up department said Mr Bacon's recommendations in his latest report, House Extension 2023, were being assessed.

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