We were excited to hear that MPs on the Communities and Local Government Committee share a similar enthusiasm for self-build homes as housing minister Grant Shapps. In their report on ‘financing of new housing supply’, they call on the government to establish a fund to incentivise local authorities to support pilot ‘volume self-build’ schemes by allocating sites and taking a flexible approach to planning.
The committee says that it sees no reason why the first pilots could not be up and running in two years’ time and has asked the government to report back.
The MPs have been to see large-scale self-build in action in Almere in the Netherlands where the local authority played an enabling role and adopted a relaxed approach to regulating design and construction (building regulations were still enforced) that has produced innovative designs.
So impressed were the MPs that they suggest that a similar, high-profile scheme in England could help to kick-start a new enthusiasm for self-build over here. They also call on the government to work with mortgage lenders to overcome barriers to lending to self builders, identified as one of the main obstacles facing the bespoke housing sector. With Self Builds in Devon a fairly common occurance we would like to see Exeter City Council back a Self Build Scheme here in the South West.
Last month Shapps hosted a workshop at No 10 Downing Street to highlight new support measures for self-builders, including the launch of the Self Build Portal|, and pledged to double the volume of self-build homes.
The government is already promoting its plans to release surplus public sector land specifically for self-build and has said it will establish a £30 million revolving fund for multi-unit self build projects, as called for by the National Self Build Association.
Having seen some of the Self Build Schemes in the Netherlands first hand we are excited at the prospect of similar schemes taking shape here in the UK, we believe the demand is high for people who would like to build there own home but don’t have the finances to buy a plot. Indeed plots of land for self builders in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset are rare, and those with planning permission sell for very high prices.
With any luck we will start to see some progress within the next few years.