Plan-makers urged to do more to cater for self-build homes

Local plan-makers need to do more to promote self-build and custom-build housing, advice from a planning and housing consultancy argues.

Graven Hill: site allocated for self-build
Graven Hill: site allocated for self-build

A research paper produced by the Three Dragons consultancy says the self-build sector looks set to become "yet more important" as an additional source of housing supply, and that plan-makers will have to ensure that this demand is identified and planned for.

The paper says councils need to incorporate demand for self-build sites into local plans and policies "so that the right mix of plots is available at the right time".

It adds that councils, which are now under a legal duty to establish demand for self-build and take it into account when carrying out their planning, housing, land disposal and regeneration functions, will need to strengthen their techniques for estimating demand in the sector.

It says they should go beyond reliance on self-build registers and use strategic housing market assessments and housing need surveys, as well as collating a wider range of information about applicants.

Three Dragons senior consultant Laura Easton said specific policies on self-build are beginning to come through in emerging local plans.

"People are thinking about it. But nearly all existing local plans only give the sector a passing mention – nothing that would get schemes moving on the ground."  

The research paper urges council policy-makers to explore innovative ways of providing plots and making self-build an attractive option for landowners.

"Advertising for plots is a slow and uncertain process that doesn’t bring much forward. Allocating sites is the best way forward," said Easton.

The research suggests a correlation between the number of registered applicants seeking self-build plots and availability of sites. It notes that Cherwell District Council, which has more than 2,500 registrations, advertises an extensive range of sites and expects to make available up to 1,900 plots in the Graven Hill development near Bicester.

Easton concluded: "There is a large task ahead to get the momentum going. Self-build needs to reach beyond its existing market of older and wealthier people whose children have left home and reach out to a wider range."

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