Taking self build to the masses
Grant Shapps has today welcomed a new action plan for the self build industry that he says could be the turning point that takes it to the masses.
Meeting with the National Self Build Association (NaSBA) - the representatives of the self-build industry - Mr Shapps said that for too long obstacles have led to the UK having one of the lowest proportions of new homes built by self-builders in Europe, and that he wanted to see the self build industry become a mainstream housing option.
Earlier this year, Mr Shapps asked NaSBA and other industry experts to work with his officials to prepare an action plan to boost the number of self-builders across the country, and address the common barriers aspiring self-builders face.
Today they presented him with their findings on tackling the main challenges holding the self-build industry back: the availability of land and finance, lack of support from industry for new self builders and the impact of regulation.
Their report sets out 15 proposals for action to help self builders, including that:
- More land be made available for self-builders. It calls for Government to ask councils to gauge the demand for self build in their area and account for this in their planning strategies.
- New implementation models, which include making serviced plots available to self builders, be actively promoted across the industry and the public sector.
- Lenders be encouraged to offer more finance products for those building their own home.
- Revolving funds should be made available to support group self build schemes, which Mr Shapps has pledged to give serious consideration to.
- Over-burdensome regulations hampering the growth of the sector be removed or simplified, and calls for Government to introduce more proportionate planning rules for small developments.
- The self build industry itself needs to provide clearer independent information to would-be self builders. A new online self build 'portal' is proposed to be set up to enable more people to get a project underway.
Mr Shapps said that significant work had been put into producing the report and thanked all those involved, and that he will consider any proposed action for Government carefully; prioritising those that could have the biggest and quickest impact on the growth of the sector.
He pointed to the significant Government action which is underway as a sign of its commitment to growing the industry:
- He has written, in discussion with the Building Societies Association, to Chief Executives of banks and building societies, calling on them to make more finance options available to those looking to build their own home.
- Promoting the use of publicly owned land for self build housing, confirming that the Government will lead the way by earmarking land at Hemel Hempstead for self builders as part of plans to release more land for redevelopment and seek to identify further sites and opportunities.
- The action underway to reduce the burden of regulation on the house building industry and through the Localism Bill to put power in the hands of communities up and down the country.
- The forthcoming consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework which will push power down to communities, and have a strong presumption in favour of sustainable development at its heart.
He challenged the industry to get behind the proposed self build 'portal', saying that key to opening up the industry to more people was improving access to the self build concept.
Up to 20,000 people build their own homes each year - putting a roof over their family's head, developing their skills in a range of areas, and quickly integrating themselves into the local community through contact with local suppliers and tradesman.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
"Self builders deliver affordable, greener and more innovatively-designed homes, and make a big contribution to the number of new homes built in this country. But there is still significant opportunity for growth in the sector which can only be opened up if Government and industry work together.
"Today's report is the culmination of months of hard work by the industry, and sets out extensive proposals for action on how we can relinquish the industry of its tag of being just for the rich and privileged.
"Government is already taking significant steps to make self build not only more attractive but also more accessible. But I pledge to continue pushing for further action to make self-build an easier option for everyone.
"That's why I will be meeting with some of our biggest retailers to discuss how they can help support the growth of the sector and I challenge the industry to get behind the proposed self build 'portal'. And I will immediately begin looking into the practicalities of establishing suitable revolving fund facilities for community self build projects, so that more projects can get off the ground."
Ted Stevens, Chairman of the National Self Build Association said:
"This action plan is the most positive development in the self build sector for probably 50 years, and if we are able to deliver on the key recommendations, we could see significant growth in the self build sector, and result in tens of thousands of additional people being able to build their own affordable properties. In turn this will create jobs, stimulate growth within the self build supply chain and help people get the custom designed, modestly priced and very sustainable homes they really want."
Raymond Connor, Chief Executive of BuildStore Financial Services, said:
"The proposals outlined in the Action Plan and level of support from Government will help to trigger the new revolution of home building. Growing the industry will be a massive and much-needed boost for local economies and the construction supply chain, as well as aspiring self builders.
"BuildStore has been championing self build as a valid housing procurement route for some time, and with the changing housing market creating the perfect conditions, self build is set to become mainstream. The ability for people to design and build a home to their own specifications has huge appeal, and the fact that it can be more affordable than buying on the open market makes it an obvious choice for many people wanting to get on or move up the housing ladder."