Time to build yourself a new house

The NPPF 2019 touches on the importance of delivering self-build and custom housing and requires local authorities to keep an up-to-date register of demand for this type of housing and planning permissions granted.  This requirement on local authorities was originally brought about by the Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act of 2015 and cemented within the NPPF.  Further support is provided by paragraph 64 of the NPPF that allows an exemption to the provision of affordable housing where someone proposes to build or commission their own home.

Whilst this has created a basis for promoting self-build projects, the Government feel it is time to upscale the delivery of self-build projects across the country, and over the weekend commissioned a review of self-build and custom housebuilding.  The vision is to achieve the delivery of 30 to 40,000 self and custom build homes built annually in England.  To support this review the Government also announced a new £75 million brownfield land fund to part-support self-build developments as part of the action plan.

Sitting behind this announcement is data that has been published on local authority performance from the last data collection in October 2019, giving a picture of demand and delivery across England.  As part of the Government’s action plan, the intention is to fast-track the publication of 2019-20 and 2020-21 data to Spring and Autumn of this year.  There will be no hiding for local authorities through this approach.

As a country, during 2018-19 there were 10,581 new registered individuals and 122 group registrations, with planning permission during the same period being granted for 10,134 plots.  This snapshot suggests delivery is nearly meeting demand, but there are clear disparities within many local authorities where this is clearly not the case.  It is also worth noting that since 2016, there were 45,084 new registrations and 580 group registrations.

An upscaling of the delivery will need to be supported by Local Plan policies, but the latest publication of data shows that only around 34% of local authorities have an adopted policy for self or custom build housing.  This is certainly something that will need to be addressed if an upscaling is to be achieved.

Taking all of this on board and to support the sector grow, the Government’s review is therefore focused on the following:

Access to finance – mortgage finance through a ‘Help to Build’ scheme.

Access to land – promoting land for development, particularly brownfield, and a review of the duty of local authorities to keep a register.

Expertise/knowledge gap – funding for the Right to Build Task Force has been confirmed for 2021-2022.

Scaling up self and custom build – the ‘Bacon Review’ has been commissioned to report back in the summer and to establish a plan to scale up delivery.

This commitment and action plan by the Government sits alongside the Planning White Paper review, and will provide an alternative option to deliver housing that “should maximise our creativity, our effectiveness, and quality of our lives”.

It will certainly be worth watching what happens to this review over the next 6 to 9 months, as the self-build and custom housing sector provides credible opportunities for delivering a range of housing needs.

References and web-links

MHCLG Policy paper – Self and custom build action plan – published 24th April 2021


Self-build and custom housebuilding data:2016. 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19