Thursday, July 13, 2017

On the Cusp - as in custom splitting

The idea of 'custom splitting' has been out there for long enough to know whether there are deep flaws or any great attractions.  For a 'magic bullet' it seems to lack penetration but the only adverse comment came in the local paper suggesting that it would be preferable to build on the Green Belt than subject future generations to the 'truly awful conditions' which would arise from dividing up larger houses. This does raise an interesting question as to whether LPAs should calculate the potential of custom splitting (cusping) before any claim that reasonable alternatives to Green Belt development have been exhausted?  That apparently wild claim can be made given the intention evident in legislation, advice and financial incentives that the Government has focused on self/custom building, and the apparent lack of serviced plots to meet the expectations of both the Government and the possible exponents.
To get from the current 7.7% of the approximately 150,000 new homes being built each year (11,550) to closer to 20% of 200,000 plus (40,000) which are said to be required is unlikely to happen without a significant level of cusping.
Before listing the benefits from a previous blog and more recent feedback I want to give a further mention to  Unlocking England’s Hidden Homes ( which estimated that there could be 4.4million dwellings available for sub-division. Another mention should be also made of the need to increase the supply of housing suitable for the elderly that is unlikely to be met even if 200,000 new dwellings were dedicated to that sector each year (
So, done properly, including deep energy upgrades, through conditional planning permissions or Local Development Orders (backed by development plan policy), the benefits of cusping seem to include:
-  reducing unsustainable levels of under-occupation,
- upgrading housing stock from EPC D and below to EPC B and above,
- downsizing in place in a Lifetime Neighbourhood, if not a Lifetime Home,
- choice of garden size without building on it,
- choice of renting or buying,
- equity release without re-mortgaging or high interest loans,
- increasing density of people (potential custom for local services and facilities) with no more buildings, 
- avoid the issues of non-implementation experienced in the new-build sector,
- efficient use of materials and labour that increasingly scarce and expensive even in the EU,
- enable LPAs to meet their legal duty to provide serviced plots to households on the Registers,
- 'realistic alternative' to building in Green Belt and open countryside in way which has Government support and limiting Nimbyism to lack of parking (that should be sorted with shared ULEVs),
-  meeting the needs of ageing households and new households (ability to choose neighbours and fit respective skills, vision and resources).
- consistent with the proposal to change the General Permitted Development Order to allow upward extensions without express permission so long as a separate/additional dwelling would be created.
I make that 13 good  and complementary reasons to promote custom-splitting without also claiming that it would represent a form of 'sustainable development', and more so than probably all forms of residential new build. 

1 comment:

  1. I understand that there are 253 people on the Registers held by the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils who have been offered 6 plots. This suggests that most if not all LPAs will have difficulty in meeting its the statutory duty to provide serviced plots without reserving parts of larger sites or utilising the potential of custom splitting?