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Self-build and custom build housing (England)

Published Monday, June 15, 2015

This note describes various initiatives aimed at growing the self-build and custom build housing sectors. Both self-build and custom build provide routes into home ownership for individuals and groups who want to play a role in developing their own homes.

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Size of the self-build sector

The UK has a much lower rate of self-building than other European countries. The sector currently accounts for between 7-10% of completions while in Austria it accounts for around 80%. There is some evidence to suggest that there may be significant unmet demand for self-build in the UK. A survey commissioned by the Building Societies Association (BSA), published in October 2011, suggested that 53 per cent of people in the UK would consider building their own home given the opportunity. Around 100,000 people subscribe to one of the main plot-finding websites.

Barriers to self-building have been identified as land supply and procurement; access to finance; the planning process; and general regulation and red tape.

Government initiatives

In Laying the foundations: a housing strategy for England (2011), the Coalition Government set out plans to enable more people to build or commission their own home. Various measures were introduced to ease the path for those wanting to build their own home including (repayable) funding; an exemption from the Community Infrastructure Levy; amendments to planning guidance; and improved access to public sector land. 

Richard Bacon’s Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill gained Government support in the 2014-15 Parliamentary Session and obtained Royal Assent on 26 March 2015. The Act requires local planning authorities to establish local registers of custom builders who wish to acquire suitable land to build their own home. It also requires local authorities to have regard to the demand on their local register when exercising planning and other relevant functions.

A new Right to Build

A Government consultation exercise was conducted between October and December 2014: Right to Build: supporting custom and self build: consultation the outcome of which was announced in March 2015: Right to Build: supporting custom and self build: government response to consultation.  The then Government said it would build on the legislative framework provided by the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 to introduce a Right to Build under which local authorities would be required to bring forward plots of land for registered custom builders in a reasonable time.  There is an ongoing pilot of the Right to Build in 11 local authority/National Park Authority areas.

The Conservative Party’s 2015 Manifesto contained a commitment to introduce a Right to Build and double the number of self and custom build homes by 2020. Measures to take forward the Right to Build will be included in a forthcoming Housing Bill.




Commons Briefing papers SN06784

Author: Wendy Wilson

Topics: Housing, Housing supply, Owner occupation

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