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Council criticised for restricting access to self build register

Solihull Council has come under heavy criticism for its decision to introduce restrictions that limit access to its Right to Build register, which records local demand for self build.

The restrictions were announced in the same week that the region hosted one of the country’s biggest self build exhibitions – Grand Designs Live at the NEC.

“At a time when we need a greater focus on sustainability and more affordable homes, it is beyond belief that any council is making it impossible for such homes to be delivered,” Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud told an audience at the exhibition.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO of the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), has accused Solihull Council of trying to get out of its obligation to meet local demand for self build opportunities, and called for it to reverse its decision.

“I have no doubt that these changes are contrary to the letter and spirit of legislation aimed at helping people to build or commission their own home,” he said.

The register is designed to assess local demand for self build, and councils are obliged to meet that demand within three years. As of October 30, 2021, Solihull Council had a shortfall in delivery of 247 plots.

Under the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act, there are three restrictions that can be applied for joining the registers, but few councils (seven per cent) have imposed all of the tests.

Baddeley-Chappell said the way Solihull Council was imposing some of these restrictions made it impossible to meet the tests. “The worst is the financial viability test,” he said.This requires an offer for a self-build mortgage from a verifiable lender, written confirmation and evidence from a qualified financial advisor that the applicant has sufficient funding to buy land, or other evidence of financial viability approved by the council.

Baddeley-Chappell identified two problems with this. “You can only effectively obtain a mortgage offer when you have access to land with permission to build – and therefore do not need to join the register – and it is not a priority for financial advisers to provide financial statements for individuals when they are joining a register but not yet able to consider proceeding with a mortgage.”

Anyone looking for a plot can register their interest at selfbuildportal.org.uk

10 October 2022