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Right to Build - An Update


The UK has a housing shortage. According to figures from Government statistics, the period 2015-2016 saw 172,490 new homes being built. If these rates continue, it will fall short of the required government figure of building 1.5 million new homes by 2022. We need a solution.

The Self and Custom Build Market Report 2017 identified the sector as a key contributor to meet house building demands in the UK. Self and custom build can offer a solution. In 2016, the Government recognised the potential in the sector, setting themselves an objective to double the value of the custom and self build market by 41% by 2020. An Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by the National Self and Custom Build Association (NaCSBA) has found one in five (19%) in the UK believe that if custom and self build homes made up a larger share of housing provision, public support for building new homes would increase.

Assessing Demand

In 2012, BuildStore created The Custom Build Register, a commercial register that collects registrant details to quantify and review the demand within each council across the UK. The Custom Build Register offers insight into where, and what kinds of homes people want to design and create.

NaCSBA campaign within the UK to raise awareness and increase activity in the custom and self build sector. They currently offer an online service inviting current or potential homeowners to ‘exercise your right to build’, whereby you can register interest with your chosen local authorities. The UK is starting to see more and more people choosing to customise and build their own homes. But what exactly is the Right to Build?

Right to Build

Since 2015, when Tim Doherty’s blog “Right to Build – The Facts” featured on the Custom Build Homes website, there have been important developments in legislation affecting the custom and self build sector. However, despite the impact of these developments, the Ipsos MORI poll found 87% of people in England were unaware of the introduction of Right to Build Registers by their local authorities.

The Right to Build Legislation came into force on April 1st 2016 through the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015. The Right to Build places an obligation on English local authorities to maintain a register of individuals and associations who are seeking to acquire serviced plots of land in the authority’s area for their own self build and custom house building. Local authorities need to meet the demand for custom and self build in their areas within three years, and show they are meeting it, through their planning policies. Read more here.

“Custom and self build housing will only become mainstream if local authorities and other organisations truly harness the Right to Build…”

Richard Bacon MP, Member of Parliament for South Norfolk and Right to Build Task Force Ambassador, when speaking of the Right to Build Task Force

Despite this duty to host a Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Register, not all local authorities complied right away. In September 2016, Rochdale Borough Council was criticised for failing to put in place a register to assess demand for custom and self build homes in their area. Since then, Rochdale now have a Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Register in place. However Croydon London Borough Council, Luton Borough Council and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council still show no sign of hosting their own Register.

Within the Housing and Planning Act 2016, the overview within the legislation states that local authorities are required ‘to meet demand for custom built and self built homes by granting permissions for suitable sites’. In other words, there is a duty placed on local authorities to grant planning permission for suitable developments to provide enough serviced plots of land to meet the demand for custom and self build housing within the authority’s area arising in each base period. NaCSBA’s Right to Build Portal has been created to ensure the public have easy access to these individual Demand Registers.

Alternatively, some councils are embracing and promoting the custom and self build sector. Teignbridge District Council were the first local authority to have a Custom and Self Build Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), known as the ‘Teignbridge Rule’, adopted in July 2016. This is hardly surprising as Teignbridge was chosen as one of eleven areas to share in a pioneer fund for the Right to Build scheme. Teignbridge received £100,000 and implemented a 5% self build policy in their Local Plan, meaning 5% of all new homes in the area would be delivered by the custom and self build sector.

It will be interesting to see how other local authorities adopt and implement the new legislation within Right to Build over the coming months…

Next steps…

So what can we expect to see regarding Right to Build in the UK? The demand for custom and self build exists, and is growing. This is obvious through the amount of people on the register held by local authorities under the 2015 Act, and can be seen on the NaCSBA website. BuildStore will continue to be heavily involved with the Right to Build. We anticipate that local authorities in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland will soon adopt similar legislation as is in force in England to establish self and custom build initiatives, once the benefits become clearer.

If you are interested in greater choice and flexibility for your next home, add your details to the Custom Build Register. This will increase awareness of the demand for the custom and self build sector in your area!