Grant Shapps, the minister for housing and self-proclaimed self-build enthusiast, hosted a celebrity 'workshop' at 10 Downing Street last week to highlight new support measures for self-builders and to make a pledge to double the size of the bespoke homes sector.
The event saw the launch of a new one-stop that brings together sources of advice and a progress report from the (NaSBA), which drew up an action plan last year at the request of the housing minister.Chief among the advances claimed was a predicted rise of 141% in self-build lending over the next three years, which would take gross lending from £790 million to over £1.9 billion. If realised, such an increase would dramatically increase the value of the bespoke housing market for small practices. The source of the forecast was Data Monitor's Annual UK Mortgage Market map, which attributes the growth projections to self-build's higher profile in the media, as well as the government's ambitions for the sector.
The progress report also points to the inclusion of an express reference in the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework to 'people wishing to build their own homes' as one of the categories of housing demand that planning authorities must consider when drawing up local development plans and policies.
Also moving forward are the government's plans to release surplus public sector land specifically for self build and to establish a £30 million revolving fund for multi-unit self build projects.
So far the Homes and Communities Agency has identified an initial five sites that will be targeted at the self-build sector to test the response of self build developers and assess the competitiveness of bids against the open market value of the sites. If successful, the HCA would look at making more multi-plot sites available in the future. As the progress report makes clear, all public sector disposals are likely to be for multi-unit schemes.
Self-build events to watch for in the near future include the launch of the revolving finance fund and a planned HCA/DCLG workshop for self-build enablers and community groups to give interested parties greater clarity about the bidding process for HCA site disposals.
Meanwhile, the Self-Build Portal claims to have links to all the government websites that list public land for sale or potential sites that will become available in the future. It also sets out to promote the advantages of community self-build projects, which can benefit from economies of scale, as well as access to development sites that might become available specifically for self build.
The DCLG estimates that almost 14,000 new homes were self-built last year, amounting to one in ten new UK homes. It is a significant market, but remains very small by international standards, especially when compared to self-build hotspots such as Germany and Austria where self build actually dominates the market.