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Britain needs self-builders to stem the flow of bland, boring housing that is all we are offered by large -scale developers

Self builders and  small independent developers tend to give us housing with character, with better sustainability and which is more in keeping with what people actually want to live in. At the weekend I passed a development of tiny houses in a mixture of grey render and mock stone perched on the edge of a hill, with no real garden for each, squeezed in between a corner shop and Victorian houses, described as ‘The House of Your Dreams’, on the developers hoardings. Some people have strange dreams!

We are fans of the Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine, and we are pleased to see that their top story this week is about how Homebuilding’s Michael Holmes together with NaSBA’s Ted Stevens have come up with a 10 point plan which aims to encourage self build in the UK. They have presented the plan to the Housing Minister, Mark Prisk MP, and the Planning Minister, Nick Boles MP. It will be interesting to see what they do with the information in it.

According to research done by Michale Holmes and Ted Stevens the Self Build sector has been in decline for the last six years or so, falling from the peak in 2006/7 by 40%. Completions of self-build housing was over 18,000 per year at that time, but fell to 11,000 in 2012. Small scale builders and developers have also been dropping away with developments comprising 30 units or less falling from 24% of all new houses being built, to just 10% of the total. This information comes from reliable sources such as HMRC and the National House Building Council.

Proving that this is not just a case of demand causing a drop in supply, there is research by Ipsos MORI which was carried out in January 2013 on behalf of NaSBA (National Self Build Association) which found that around six million UK citizens would like to build their own home, with over a million of those stating that they would like to do so in the next year.

What is the 10 Point Plan to Boost Self-Build

We have listed the 10 points below, however if you want a more in depth explanation you can click on this link to see the full document as a PDF.

1. Allow sites for 1-30 units to be classed as Minor Developments.

2. Local Authorities should be encouraged to allow small scale greenfield windfall sites

3. Extend the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme to include ‘Help to Build’

4. Remove Affordable Housing contributions/section 106 Agreements and community infrastructure levy on Minor Development Schemes

5. Allow only sites with planning permission to be counted as ‘deliverable’ within the 5-year supply requirement

6. Ensure neighbourhood plans cannot be taken into account prematurely

7. Reduce the cost of putting forward Planning Applications for Minor Development Proposals

8. Ensure the Target-driven culture does not lead to unnecessary refusals

9. Ensure determination targets do not lead to refusals

10. Provide further guidance notes on interpretation of the National Planning Policy Framework in relation to sustainability and rural exception sites

If the Government will help to promote small-scale development and self-builders then the urban and suburban landscape could be enriched by individual and unique housing, and it is more likely that the houses would be greener, built to a better specification, and would be more suited to the inhabitants than a corporate developers idea of what we should be living in.

In addition it should boost the building industry income as smaller firms would be encouraged to build, and self builders would contract tradesmen with the skill sets they need for their build.

If you want to find out more about Self-Build opportunities you can come along to the Homebuilding & Renovating Show at Sandown Park in Surrey at the end of the month. DIY Doctor will be there, come and find us on Stand “207.

If you would like free tickets to the show as DIY Doctor’s guests, then just follow the link or click on the banner below.

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