Scandinavian Homes attended a breakfast briefing by the National Custom & Self Build Association at the NEC in Birmingham last week. As Association members, we were interested to hear what they had been up to, and it turns out they’ve been quite busy over the last year!

Many with an interest in self-building will by now have heard of the Government’s Right To Build scheme, which requires local councils to grant planning permission for enough serviced plots to meet demand in their area. It isn’t well publicised though – meaning you have to go and look for it – and we frequently talk to people who are not aware of it. Demand is gauged by so-called Right to Build registers, and planning permissions must then be granted on sufficient plots over a three year rolling period. NaCSBA have been heavily involved with the development of this scheme, and have now also set up the Right To Build Portal to help prospective self-builders find their local RTB register. Soon, all members such as ourselves will have website links to the portal to provide self- and custom- builders with more ways to find their local list.

NaCSBA continue to advise Government and local authorities on ideas that will help to boost the self-build and custom build housing sector.

Here are some dry but encouraging statistics:
96% of Local Planning Authorities now have a RTB register;
By 31st October 2016 18,000 had registered their names;
2016 saw a 24% increase in planning permission on single plots
A 2017 Self & Custom Build market report puts the current value of the market at £3.8bn with a projected value of £6.8bn by 2020.
Whilst we can’t read too much into one year’s figures, this is still good news for self-builders! It shows that things are moving in the right direction and finding plots and getting planning permission is getting easier.

One important issue for self- builders is access to finance. In 2016, the UK regulator announced a consultation on the tightening of regulations that would have resulted in smaller lenders finding it difficult to offer loans to self-builders. NaCSBA has stepped in and is talking to the authorities in the hopes of persuading them that these changes would be harmful, with the aim of heading off this threat. Some success has already been achieved as they have the ear of the government minister, Richard Bacon.

Self-build homes are exempt from the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 payments, which were introduced by the Government to ensure that developers contributed to the infrastructure that their developments would rely on ( e.g. transport routes, schools) and to the funding of affordable housing. However, local authorities often challenge this exempt status, and NaCSBA are lobbying the Government to ensure that this exemption remains in place.

NaCSBA are also working with the Welsh Government to progress an increase in self-build homes in Wales, and they recently set up a dedicated Work Group for Scotland to encourage the continued growth of what is already a fairly successful sector north of the

The next step for NaCSBA is the creation of a Right to Build Task Force to provide support and expertise to local councils, housing associations, community groups, Local Enterprise Partnerships and anyone else associated with self and custom build. This will help propel the sector to deliver on the government’s target of achieving 30,000 to 40,000 self and custom build houses each year. In the future they want everyone to regard self build not as niche and for the few but something anyone can attain, just as they do on the continent.

It’s fair to say that without the huge amount of hard work done by NaCSBA, entirely on a voluntary basis, the opportunities for self builders would be far more limited that they currently are. With their continued effort, the next few years look increasingly exciting and will undoubtedly help more and more people to realise their dreams.

If you are interested in the work that NaCSBA do, you can find out more on their website or the Right To Build Portal