For three years, the Right to Build Task Force has been advising local authorities on creating more custom and self-build housing.
As head of the task force, my challenge is to help stakeholders recognise the opportunities that owner-commissioned homes can present as part of wider housing delivery. These include key concerns for housing, such as SME house builders, small sites, place making, community, and housing diversity.
Planning authorities face unique challenges when working with innovative approaches to house building. Our experts can support this by offering solutions for including custom and self-build housing as part of planning and housing strategies. To date, we’ve helped 5,000 new homes move into the planning pipeline.
We also run training events, and are currently funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to deliver these for authorities with which we’ve yet to work.
Enshrined in law, the Right to Build is a powerful tool. Some councils still see it as a threat rather than an opportunity, which is where we can help.
The law requires all councils to maintain a register of anyone interested in self-building, and councils must then consider this demand when fulfilling their wider planning duties.
Last year, we reviewed all existing and emerging local plans in England. We welcomed the fact that 58 per cent provided for custom and self-build.
The analysis revealed emerging examples of good practice and found that policy was most effective at bringing on new custom and self-build housing when it included at least one of the following planning practices: land allocations for larger sites; affordable housing policies; and ‘percentage policies’, where, for example, 5 per cent of all medium to large sites must be set aside for custom and self-build.
Where local planning policies include several of these elements, it creates a ‘package’ approach that the task force identified as most effective for ensuring sites come forward.