Tens of thousands want to self-build in England but opportunities are not being publicised

Since the beginning of April 2016, over 40,000 people have now signed up to Right to Build registers across England to secure a plot to design and build their dream home but opportunities are not being publicised sufficiently, it is suggested.

Over 10,000 new registrations have been added, many via the National Custom and Self Build Association’s Right to Build Portal.

However, the NaCSBA said that while it is happy to see the number of people who have registered growing, it remains the case that the numbers remain far short of the real underlying demand.

The NaCSBA believes this is because of a lack of promotion of the registers by many local authorities and increasing action by many authorities to make it harder for individuals to sign up to the registers.

Indeed, NaCSBA research shows that while in the first year of the registers very few local authorities placed restrictions on joining, the number now has risen to over one in four. These restrictions include local connection tests and charges to join and remain on registers.

Local connection tests must only be applied where there is a strong justification and in response to a recognised local issue. Charges must be on a cost recovery basis but range from £50 one off to £350 as a one off charge and £150 for each year.

In many cases the NaCSBA believes that there are strong grounds to challenge the approach taken by local authorities and believes that, through such actions, individuals are being denied opportunities for a better-quality and better value home. In effect this is creating a postcode lottery as well as a domino effect by shifting activity to those councils which continue to maintain open registers.

Councils should also be promoting their registers, but action is again limited, with one council noting that its proactive promotional activity consists solely of a press release around the introduction of locally set criteria and fee.

The NaCSBA said that it supports the fact that the majority of councils are managing their registers as part of a wider suite of evidence for demand for custom and self-build, but in light of the uneven picture it plans to use this evidence to raise its concerns with the Government.

‘While it’s great news that the numbers who want to self-build has increased, NaCSBA has deep concerns that, rather than meet the demand for custom and self-build homes through the granting of planning permissions to match demand, some local authorities are instead seeking to minimise the number of registrations,’ said Michael Holmes, chairman of the NaCSBA.

‘This is a direct challenge, not only to members of all parties in parliament who supported the legislation, but also to the 60% of the public who are interested in commissioning or building their own home. Through their actions these local authorities are reducing the number of homes that are built as well as depriving individual and families of the best and most cost-effective route to a well-designed home of real quality and value,’ he added.

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