More government support for self-build surge

87158960More people looking to start a building project, including affordable homes for their local community, are to receive support.

Self-build is an important element of the government’s housing strategy, and supports action to help new house building firms and get empty and redundant buildings back into productive use.

The measures announced today (17 September 2013) will complement steps the government has already taken to dismantle barriers that hold back self-build projects: limited land availability and reluctance by lenders to provide finance and red tape.

Communities Minister Don Foster announced a series of measures to ensure the self-build market is opened up to those on lower incomes. These include:

Providing new grant funding for community self-builders

For the first time community self-build and community-led affordable housing projects will be able to apply for a share of £65 million from the Affordable Homes Guarantees Programme to build the affordable homes they want in their area.

Working with councils to increase land for self-build plots

New planning practice guidance will be introduced to ensure councils establish the demand for self-build in their area, as well as take steps to help aspiring self-builders. This will include compiling a local register of people who want to build their own homes so they can be given first priority when new brownfield sites become available.

Removing unfair taxes from self-builders

New Council Tax discounts will be introduced for self-build family annexes, removing an unfair council tax penalty surcharge. Meanwhile, genuine self-builders will be exempted from paying inappropriate Section 106 tariffs and the community infrastructure levy, which will cut the cost of self-build by thousands of pounds.

Freeing up more redundant public sector land for self-builders

A review of the Homes and Communities Agency’s large number of smaller plots will identify those which are not viable for large-scale house building, but are perfect for small housing projects like self-build. More property asset data will be published online and the Community Right to Reclaim Land enhanced so self-builders can request redundant public sector land is released and sold for self-build projects.

Ending misconceptions about self-build

Mr Foster said the measures would help end the misconception that self-build is the pastime of a privileged elite, rather than a mainstream option. In 2012 to 2013 almost 11,000 new homes were self-built, in an industry worth up to £4 billion for the UK economy.

He explained ministers were determined anyone with aspirations to build their own home has opportunity to do so. He said the self-build industry can double in size over the next 10 years.

Communities Minister Don Foster said:

For many people the concept of building your own home means one thing: a fantasy mansion built by people with deep pockets and endless spare time. We are determined to end this misconception so anyone with aspirations to build their own home has the opportunity to do so, including people on low incomes.

That is why we will give community-led groups the chance to apply for a share of £65 million to build the affordable homes they want in their area, and introduce other measures to boost access to land and end unfair taxes.

These measures will open the door for hundreds of potential building projects across the country, and consolidate the progress we’ve already made to establish self build as a mainstream option.

These include:

Freeing up more redundant public sector land for self-builders

The government has taken the lead by increasing the opportunities for self-builders to gain access to plots on previously-developed and redundant public sector land. So far 8 sites have been identified with over 130 plots for self-build development, including a larger site of up to 60 homes at Trevenson Park in Pool, Cornwall.

Working with councils to increase land for self-build plots

The government has been working with councils and developers to identify opportunities for self-build housing in their area.

Over 50 councils are already bringing forward sites and offering assistance to self-builders and many developers are exploring the self-build business model, with over 3,000 individual plots in the pipeline across various projects in England.

Making it easier to get a self-build mortgage

Traditionally, lenders have been reluctant to give self-builders a mortgage before the house is built and valued, so the government has been speaking to lenders about doing more for self-builders.

26 lenders are now offering self-build loans and gross self-build lending is predicted to increase by almost half between 2012 and 2015 to £1.9 billion a year.

Funding for community self-builders

Self-builders often struggle to raise the initial finance to get their projects off the ground, so the government has made £47 million of loans available to help aspiring self-builders and community groups.

Several schemes have been provisionally approved, including sites in Derbyshire and Peterborough, with further bids expected in the coming months.

Raising awareness about self build

The government helped launch the Self Build Portal, a comprehensive advisory site for self-builders, with Kevin McCloud from Channel 4’s “Grand Designs” as the industry champion to raise awareness of self-build as a viable option for people up and down the country.


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