It's fair to say the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government took some important steps towards making life easier for potential self builders in the UK.
It also appears that the Conservative majority government intend to continue to support self build over the next 5 years. An overarching idea that individuals and communities had for too long not had a say on what happened in their local area or how developments were planned led to several interesting schemes.
In January 2014 the Government announced a Right to Contest scheme which meant that members of the public could contest the current use of existing Government owned buildings or plots of land that were underused or could be put to better use, such as delivering building plots for new homes.
The power to contest applies to both vacant and occupied land and is part of a move to help lower the deficit and improve the future economy. As the government owns around £330 billion of land, selling off some of their holdings is a good option to raise funds.
To submit a challenge to the current use of land all an individual or business needs to do is complete a simple form explaining the reasons they believe a site is potentially surplus to requirements and why it should be released for sale to provide better economic use.
Once a plot has been contested the case will be considered by a committee made up of Treasury Ministers, plus representatives from the Cabinet Office and the landholding department. It is expected that Right to Contest will generate a greater supply of building land for new homes and commercial properties.
The Cabinet Office have recently released a search portal called Government Property Finder where anyone can search all Government owned properties. The site is in Beta and can be found by following the link below. Site visitors can search government properties for rent, properties and land for sale or search all government properties, which would allow people to find potential sites to contest.
Right to Build
Another pilot scheme aimed at releasing land for self builders was announced in September 2014 that focused on helping individuals gain access to local council owned land with potential for self build homes.
The NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) had already required that local councils pro-actively identified and met the need for self build in their local area, but in reality this was only happening in certain places. Approximately 5,000 serviced plots have been released by councils since the requirement was brought into the NPPF. Right to Build is intended to take things further and put more power into the hands of self-builders. Under the scheme local councils must take into account the demand for self build and custom housing in their area and include provision for it in the local plan. The scheme is being trialled with 11 local councils and works as follows: