A major scaling up of custom and self-build homes has failed to materialise due to insufficient publicity and available land, claims Conservative MP Richard Bacon.
He is disappointed at the lack of progress since the 2016 housing and planning act where the government pledged to double the number of self-commissioned homes over two years.
“Too many local authorities are yet to fully engage with the benefits to them and their communities of enabling more of this approach to housing delivery. Local authority resources too often are too stretched to invest in a new approach to housing delivery,” said Mr Bacon.
His comments follow the government’s response last month to his original independent review on the scaling up of custom and self-build homes published two years ago.
Since 2016 local authorities must maintain a ‘right to build register’ of individuals and groups who would like to construct their own homes. This allows certain community organisations to bring forward smaller scale development on a specific site without the need for planning permission.
Public awareness about custom and self-build is low
“Local authorities continue to fail to promote their right to build registers, which can be difficult to find and access. Most lack any clear explanation as to the duty placed on authorities under the legislation and some have even been found to omit any mention of the obligation placed on authorities,” said Mr Bacon.
Only 39 out of England’s 330 local authorities have adopted the right to build in their local plans despite a 35 per cent increase in the number of individuals and groups registering an interest.
The number of permissions granted on serviced plots has dropped from 7,720 in 2019-20 to 6,374 in 2021-22, despite 64, 374 individuals and groups registering an interest.
National Custom and Self Build Association, NaCSBA’s communications manager Duncan Hayes said: “The problem is the legislation has no teeth. There is little you can do to penalise authorities except to call them out.”
Mr Bacon said not enough had been done to make land available through a plot-to-rent scheme or a small sites programme using local development orders.
He said despite Home England’s new self-build unit, there was an absence of specific commitments to the recommendations in his original review.
Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders viewed self and custom build as an important route to market for SMEs, at a time when mainstream housebuilding was shrinking
Dutch developer Steenvlinder has entered the UK market gaining planning permission for 25 serviced self-build plots at Kennington near Ashford, Kent. It expects to offer the plots for sale by Autumn this year.
A spokesperson for the housing and levelling up department said Mr Bacon’s recommendations in his latest report, House Extension 2023, were being assessed.