Yesterday I visited Number 10 for a meeting about what the Government can do to help self-builders. This is a separate enterprise from the current self-build working party (working with Grant Shapps) which I’m also involved with.
At the meeting I was asked, along with a trio of others who represent smaller housing developers, what the Govt could go to achieve its aim of building many more houses. Indeed, the figure they (only half-jokingly) quoted us that they wanted was 450,000 new homes a year – four times the current amount.
I raised the two issues that have dogged self-builders – the old one (lack of land) and the new one (finance). I pointed out that these days the majority of self-builds occur as replacement dwellings which makes it a very expensive pursuit. They were surprised to hear this. I also pitched my pet idea about each village/town releasing a handful of individual sites each year, making land available for locals to build on and minimising the impact of new development. I even touched on the radical idea of breaking down the barrier between town and countryside (to allow building new one-offs in the countryside which currently is impossible).
All ideas were warmly received. We had a good old whinge about finance too.
The great news is that at long last, self-build is on the Govt’s antennae. We’re being taken seriously and they can see the many ways in which self-build is a preferred route (design, sustainability and so on). Whether they deliver, of course, is another thing – but this is as close as we’ve got in decades to transforming the prospects of the self-build world.