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Boris Johnson launches New Self Build Scheme

Aspiring Grand Designers in London have received added support from Mayor Boris Johnson as a new scheme launches to help residents of the capital find plots of land to build on, as well as get expert support and guidance as they construct their own homes.

The Mayor is putting together a detailed register of London residents who want to custom-build a home by asking them to note which borough they prefer to live in.

The Build Your Own London Home Register, which launched at the end of August, will initially provide City Hall with a complete database reflecting the amount of demand for self-built homes in the city.

Mayor Johnson then intends to match prospective buyers with local councils that have brownfield sites available, as well as companies and developers that can support them.

Deputy Mayor Richard Blakeway said that people do not necessarily want to complete the entire build themselves, but most want to take an existing shell and apply their own custom touches.

Mr Blakeway added that initiatives such as the London Housing Bank, Housing Zones, and the Affordable Homes project are currently in place to increase the amount of available housing in the capital, but City Hall is always looking for new and innovative ideas for solving the housing crisis.

Finding a site to build on is usually the biggest challenge faced by aspiring self-builders, especially in London, where the most expensive element of a project is the land itself. Those without any kind of construction experience also tend to be deterred by the complexity of building their own home.

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The plots that do become available also tend to be difficult infill sites that could cause problems for inexperienced house builders who are going it alone.

By the end of this year, however, Mr Johnson hopes that sufficient numbers of would-be housebuilders will have registered to enable City Hall to accurately map demand levels across London.

In 2016, serious discussions will begin with developers and landowners to match the measured demand with aspiring housebuilders who want to live in the city.

Plans for one of the first custom build projects in London are now in progress at Custom House in East London. Planning permission has been provided for nine new residences and East Thames Housing Association, working closely with Newham Council, hopes to start construction next year on a council-owned piece of land that is currently being used to contain garages.

Locality CEO Tony Armstrong said that the Build Your Own London Home Register was a welcome addition in the never-ending struggle for more housing in the capital.

Mr Armstrong pointed out that London’s ongoing housing crisis is deeply concerning. Demand currently outstrips supply, resulting in a lack of available land for urgently needed homes. As such, any attempts to release brownfield sites via the new register are welcome, as they could enable community organisations to proceed with self-build and other types of housing projects.

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