Big Steps Forward for Self-Build in Norfolk

Big Steps Forward for Self-Build in Norfolk

Our local MP Richard Bacon continues his tireless work championing self-build in the UK with the publication of his ‘Independent Review On A Major Scaling-Up Of Self-Commissioned New Homes’ – or to use its rather catchier headline title: ‘House: How Putting Customers in Charge Can Change Everything’.

The report, commissioned by the Prime Minister in April, runs to 114 pages and makes detailed recommendations under six headings (see below), so it is another weighty contribution to the campaign to increase the uptake of custom-build and self-build (CSB) in the UK.

Richard has led the charge on CSB for over a decade, working closely with the National Custom and Self-Build Association (NaCSBA) and other industry bodies to maintain and guide the Government’s interest and action in the sector. In his own ‘patch’, South Norfolk District Council was one of the ‘vanguard’ local authorities in the early implementation of the now mandatory Self-Build Register that each local authority has to maintain, to track the demand for self-build plots in their area. And as reported here previously, we are very excited, as Richard must be, to finally see local planning policy emerging to turn aspiration into concrete (or brick, or timber-framed) reality. The emerging Greater Norwich Local Plan covering Norwich Broadland and South Norfolk contains a requirement that on new developments of 40 or more homes, 5% of the plots should be sold as serviced plots for custom/self-build. This is a potential game-changer, on which we will post some more thoughts soon. In the meantime, keep up the good work Richard!

The main recommendations of Richard Bacon’s report:

1: A Greater Role for Homes England

The Government should create a new Custom and Self-Build Housing Delivery Unit within Homes England to enable the creation of serviced building plots on small and large sites and support the delivery of custom and self-build housing at scale across the country.

2: Raise Awareness of the Right to Build

The Government, working through Homes England in partnership with the custom and self-build industry, should create a custom and self-build housing Show Park and should strengthen existing legislation to mandate the wider publicity of Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Registers and the sharing of key data between willing landowners and people on registers.

3: Support Community-Led Housing, Diversity of Supply and Levelling Up

The Government should reignite the successful Community Housing Fund; create accessible opportunities for communities to help themselves by introducing a Self-Help Housing Programme; and introduce a Plot to Rent Scheme.

4: Promote Greener Homes and More Use of Advanced Manufacturing

The Government should recognise and support the path-finding role of the custom and self-build housing sector in advanced manufacturing and in greener homes to accelerate the delivery of its wider Modern Methods of Construction and Net Zero Housing ambitions.

5: Support Custom and Self-Build Housebuilding Through the Planning Reforms

The Government should ensure that the planning reforms in its White Paper Planning for the future maximise the opportunities for access to permissioned land for CSB across all tenures, including making focussed changes to the Right to Build legislation to ensure that it achieves its objectives.

6: Iron Out Any Tax Creases

The Government should investigate the perceived disadvantages in the tax system between the CSB delivery model and other forms of housing, identifying specific actions where necessary to neutralise them.

Matt Wood, Head of Housing
September 2021

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