A new housing delivery unit will be set up within Homes England to support the delivery of custom and self build homes at scale across the UK, the government has confirmed.
The announcement comes as part of the government’s response on Friday to the Richard Bacon review, published in August 2021, which made recommendations that Mr Bacon MP said could deliver between 30,000 and 40,000 and self build homes a year.
The response lays out the government’s ambition for custom and self build, which Mr Bacon had previously described as a “missing market” in the UK, and includes a commitment to working with modern methods of construction (MMC) and strengthening the monitoring of the Right to Build registers.
Housing minister Stuart Andrew said: “This response sets out how the government will take forward the recommendations and play its part in ramping up the self and custom build sector.
“The government will continue to work with the industry to reduce the barriers to self and custom build and community-led housing more widely, to ensure that we grow the sector to meet our shared ambition.”
What is The Richard Bacon Review?
Mr Bacon, the MP for South Norfolk since 2001 and self build advocate, was commissioned in 2021 by prime minister Boris Johnson to lead a review on how to scale up the delivery of self and custom build homes.
The 114-page report made six recommendations for scaling up the self build sector, which would make it easier for people to build their own home.
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO of the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), said of the response: “The ministerial foreword to the response is great news for the sector, as the positive commentary sets out government’s ambition for custom and self build to bolster and diversify mainstream housing delivery.
“This also sets out a promise for the government to look at some of the recommendations in more detail in coming years, where it was unable to comment decisively at this point.”
What Were The Recommendations And Responses?
Recommendation 1: A greater role for Homes England, including the creation of a new Custom and Self Build Housing Delivery Unit to support the creation of serviced plots on small and large sites to support the delivery of custom and self build.
Response: The government has confirmed this unit will be set up, with its responsibilities set to include capitalising on the links between MMC and self-commissioned homes to support the effective use of MMC in self build projects.
Recommendation 2: Raise awareness of the Right to Build registers through a government-funded show park of custom and self build homes, and strengthen existing legislation to mandate the wider publicity of the registers.
Response: The government rejected Mr Bacon’s recommendation for a show park. Instead it said that the promotional activity for the newly launched Help to Build will be optimised to amplify existing promotional work around self and custom build.
Recommendation 3: Support community-led housing, diversity of supply and levelling up, achieved through reigniting the Community Housing Fund (which had promised to deliver up to 100,000 new homes in England but was not renewed in the 2020 Spring Budget) and creating more opportunities for communities to build, such as through a Self-Help Housing Programme and a Plot to Rent Scheme, where a serviced plot is provided at low cost as an alternative to a grant.
Response: The government did not commit to renewing the Community Housing Fund, but said the new Homes England delivery unit will embrace community-led housing. The unit will also work with local authorities to support and increase the number of affordable self build schemes within the Affordable Homes Programme, and explore the viability of Plot to Rent.
Recommendation 4: Promote Greener homes and more use of advanced manufacturing, such as MMC.
Response: As alluded to in the response to the first recommendation, MMC is a “good choice” for self build homes, helping to achieve high energy performance, the government says. It added that the MMC Task Force, announced in 2021, will support the growth of MMC in the housing sector. No new programmes were announced to deliver greener homes, however.
Recommendation 5: Support custom and self build through planning reforms - in particular through making focused changes to the Right to Build legislation to ensure that it achieves its objectives.
Response: The government declined to state how planning reforms would support growth, but highlighted the £600k funding to enable the Right to Build Task Force to operate for a further three years. The government also stressed the importance of local authorities stepping up and supporting self build delivery, and confirmed that new legislation would clarify the issue of ‘suitable permissions’ that remains an issue with the monitoring of the Right to Build duties.
Recommendation 6: Iron out tax issues to create a level playing field between self built homes and speculatively built homes, including the challenges of applying the Community Infrastructure Levy to newer forms of self-commissioned housing.
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Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms.
He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.