Conservative MP and self-build champion Richard Bacon says that new housing in the UK is considered by communities as a form of pollution, creating a monoculture in villages and towns, and adds that commissioning a new bespoke home should be no more difficult that ordering a new car.
“Most customers have almost no clout when it comes to buying a home,” he states in his independent review of self and custom build, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister in April. The self-build sector was a ‘missing market’ which could add up to 40,000 new homes a year if more land was made available.
“Those who have managed to commission or build their own dwelling see a result that is to their own taste – greener, better built and more welcomed by local communities.
“The solution is to provide conditions in which customers are treated as if they matter the most, rather than – for the most part - scarcely mattering at all. And this is what happens when people themselves commission the houses they would like to see.”
In the review, Bacon states that Homes England has a key role to play in kickstarting the market, including providing land and investment and helping to streamline planning.
A core recommendation is that a custom- and self-build delivery unit should be established with a mandate to deliver the required changes, staffed by skilled professionals with deep experience of delivering custom- and self-build projects for customers across all tenures.
The review has been welcomed by the National Custom and Self Build Association. NaCSBA CEO Andrew Baddeley-Chappell said: “The recommendations in this report have the capacity to positively transform our country’s relationship with the new homes market.”
The review’s recommendations:
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.
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.
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.
Promote greener homes and more use of advanced manufacturing
The Government should recognise and support the pathfinding 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.
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 custom and self build across all tenures, including making focused changes to the Right to Build legislation to ensure that it achieves its objectives.
Iron out any tax creases
The Government should investigate the perceived disadvantages in the tax system between the custom- and self-build delivery model and other forms of housing, identifying specific actions where necessary to neutralise them.