The Government will “make it easier for people who want to build their own homes,” its Housing White Paper, published 7 February 2017, states.

The White Paper makes it clear that custom and self build is now an important part of the Government’s strategy to solve the housing crisis, along with support for small and medium sized (SME) builders, innovative, offsite methods of construction and a simpler planning system.

Specific commitments in Fixing Our Broken Housing Market include:

  • Promoting the Right to Build portal from the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), so that anyone wanting to build their own home can easily find the local authority register in their area;
  • Ensuring that the exemption from the Community Infrastructure Levy for self build remains in place for now, while the Government looks at longer-term reforms;
  • Working with lenders to ensure that they have plans in place to support customer demand for custom build finance products;
  • Proposals to give more support for SME house builders, including greater use of Local Development Orders and area-wide design codes, so that small sites can be brought forward for development more quickly;
  • Supporting custom build through the Government’s Accelerated Construction programme, set up to diversify the housing market by working with SME builders.

The Government will also bring in legislation to ensure local authorities meet their new Right to Build requirements to assess demand for custom and self build in their area and grant permission for enough plots to meet local demand.

Planning Permission

Improvements to the planning rules, outlined in the White Paper, should also make the process easier for custom and self builders. These include:

  • A more open and accessible planning system, giving local authorities more rights to take action against builders who do not start building once permission has been granted;
  • Proposals to expand the permitted development rights that apply to agricultural buildings (such as barns) and possible new permitted development rights in “areas of high housing need”;
  • Brownfield sites will be assumed to be suitable for housing, unless there is a clear reason not to, such as a high flood risk;
  • New proposals that will expect local authorities to support the development of small windfall sites.

Ongoing Commitment

“NaCSBA is very pleased to see Government policy is ever more supportive of custom and self build,” says NaCSBA’s chair Michael Holmes.

“The White Paper shows clear ongoing commitment to Right to Build and the promise to introduce more legislation should local planning authorities fail to fulfil their duty to assess demand for custom and self build and permission sufficient plots to meet that demand.”

“The White Paper also sets out the Government’s support for the soon to be launched Right To Build Task Force which will assist local authorities in bringing forward schemes for custom and self build homes through expert advice.

Windfall sites

“Another significant development is the response to NaCSBA’s request for national planning policy to be changed to allow small ‘windfall’ sites to be brought forward outside of the local plan for housebuilding, in particular for custom and self build homes,” he adds.

“Using small, undeveloped sites within existing settlements is also given greater emphasis, and although not specifically mentioned this might well include large gardens.”

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