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Self-Build Planning Guidelines Will Impact on Councils’ housebuilding Strategies

Industry figures indicate that the UK is behind other Western nations when it comes to promoting new self- or custom-built housing and the new self-build planning guidelines aim to change that.

Planning minister Brandon Lewis has said that the government wants to see more homes built to tackle the housing crisis. His intention is to see 20,000 self- and custom-built homes built per year by 2020. The National Custom and Self Build Association's (NCSBA's) estimate is 12,500.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) recently made new draft planning guidance and regulations publicly available. These items, which come into effect on April 1, describe how councils should meet the responsibilities assigned to them by the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015.

The act calls for local planning authorities to maintain registers of all self- and custom builders for their district. It also requires councils to keep their registers in mind when performing their housing, planning, regeneration, and land disposal responsibilities.

The new rules compliment Housing and Planning Bill measures that require councils to make ‘shovel ready’ plots available to self- and custom builders according to demand.

Mike Kiely, chair of the Planning Officers' Society (POS) board, said that anyone could join a register even if they lack the means to build their own home, which will create a false impression of demand. Mr Kiely said that if the government had required a small application fee to enter the register, those not committed to building their own home would be filtered out and the administration costs of the councils would be covered. He added that creating the registers and keeping them current added to the workload of overstretched planning teams.

NCSBA chairman Michael Holmes agreed that keeping up the registers would be more work for local councils, but the government would provide funding to cover the costs.

“Councils will have to have some sort of way of checking whether people are serious,” he said.

According to the guidance, any EEU citizen over 18 years of age is eligible, provided they are seeking a serviced plot for a home that would be their sole or primary residence. Authorities may request additional details from applicants, but may not modify the eligibility criteria, such as limiting the register to local residents.

Mr Holmes said councils will be expected to establish secondary tests, which could be used to verify local residency and financial capability. Any criteria that is lawful and non-discriminatory may be applied.


Dave Trimingham, executive director at Turley planning consultancy, stated that keeping the registers current will be one of the primary tasks for local councils. This could involve a yearly survey of everyone on the list asking if they want to stay listed.

Mr. Trimingham added that local authorities would have to create planning policies for self- and custom builds that make enough land available.

Teignbridge District Council, for example, has created a draft version of a supplementary planning document that requires developers whose schemes involve more than 20 homes to set aside 5% of available plots for custom builders.


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