Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Self or custom building - registers and duties

The Housing and Planning Bill became law on 12 May although there will be many further regulations putting flesh on these bones.  Apart from repeating my complaint that this legislation addresses any number of matters that could simply be dealt with by applying new policies and actually includes non-problems while missing the real ones - we should not expect anything less from  Government which believes that the planning system is the cause of so many problems which are actually beyond the powers conveyed by the 1990 Act (as amended).

However, there is section 10.  This greatly improves on the Self and Custom Building Act which imposed a duty on LPAs to hold registers of those interested in self building.

When formally brought into force, the H & P Act will require LPAs to permit serviced plots in numbers to match the numbers of interested individuals and associations of individuals (I was told that this was the Government's attempt to show that co-housing should be encouraged) registering within the previous 12 month period.  While it might be the case that some  of those on the registers will go out and make applications on land to meet their own needs, I cannot see any substantial demand being satisfied without plots/land being reserved on sites allocated in development plans or being permitted on a speculative or ad hoc basis (eg when there is no up to date development plan).

A lack of plots being provided/permitted by the LPA could become a very strong argument in favour of permission being granted on sites brought forward by individuals or groups.

My assumption is predicated on there being enough publicity given to both the registers and the duties that then arise for numbers to reach the levels predicted by the associated lobby groups.  In my village 145 out of about 1000 households said that they would be interested and 50 said that they would be interested in co-housing.There does not appear to be much of a downside to registering - British citizen over the age of 18 - although LPAs can impose a reasonable charge for administering the registers and some are trying to require some local attachment (probably illegal but might be used when distributing plots if insufficient to meet all the registered need).

Finally, to put this in context, the Government wants self and custom building to make a very substantial contribution to housing supply.  The volume builders are unlikely to build more than 50% of the 250,000 dwellings said to be required (DanthePlan is uncertain about this if all new housing was 2 bedroomed - see previous blogs on under-occupation).  The Government is committed to 200,000 new dwellings per year.  When more than this was being built the 'extra' was provided by council house building and small builders.  The latter suffered in the 2007/8  crash and are slow to return but might assist with some of the custom building. Some councils are forming building companies (that might escape the right to buy). However, it will take a monumental effort for  the current level of self building to grow from 10% of 120,000 (ie 12,000) to the 20% of 200,000 (50,000 dwellings) per year that the Government has in its sights.  Let alone the 50% experienced in many other countries.  So get on the register(s) and get building.

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