Over half of local plans support self-build but many policies are 'vague', says report

More than half of all English local planning authorities have, or are developing, local plan policies that support custom and self-build homes, but many of such policies are "vague," according to research by the Right to Build Task Force.

Self-build: local plan policy support up (pic: Getty)
Self-build: local plan policy support up (pic: Getty)

The task force, which was set up by companies and individuals aiming to promote self build and custom build and forms part of the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), looked at all current and emerging local plans across England.

It found that more than half of all local planning authorities (58 per cent) now have, or are progressing, local plan policies that support custom and self build housing delivery. This is up from 24 per cent in 2015.

Local authorities have duties to provide for such housing in their local plans under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015.

The Right to Build Task Force’s assessment revealed that 76 per cent of authorities who have adopted a local plan after the legislation was introduced now have a planning policy that supports such housing. This is up from 13 per cent from the pre-legislation position prior to April 2016.

But the body said it also found that "while adopted post-legislation plans are becoming more ambitious, with a range of approaches emerging in practice, few offer the necessary meaningful support within the spirit of the legislation and government policy".

"Most only include vague policies supporting custom and self build housing in principle, without enabling development to come forward," it added.

However, highlighting good practice, the body said Bristol City Council’s emerging local plan sets out a range of measures including site allocations; support for community-led housing projects to provide policy-compliant affordable housing; a percentage policy for larger sites; and, identified opportunities in growth areas.

Such ‘package’ approaches can accelerate more custom and self build housing projects to come forward, especially if combined with supplementary planning documents or guidance that some authorities have introduced, the Right to Build Task Force said.

Mario Wolf, director of the Right to Build Task Force, noted progress in the number of councils developing policies to support self and custom-build.

But he added: "It is unacceptable that almost five years on from the 2015 Act that almost one in three adopted post-legislation plans and one in four emerging local plans are making no provision for custom and self build housing.

"We hope that those authorities without policies will soon act to ensure that their local plan facilitates more local communities to build owner-commissioned homes."

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