Self builders would consider brownfield sites if offered financial incentives

Individual self builders would be more likely to consider brownfield sites if they were offered financial incentives like commercial developers, according to the latest research by Ipswich Building Society.

The research revealed that 82% of potential self builders would feel more inclined to consider a brownfield site if they were offered a tax break such as VAT exemption or other monetary benefit, such as a government interest free loan to prepare the land for the building.

Commercial developers currently benefit from incentives such as the Land Remediation Tax Relief to make brownfield sites a more attractive proposition. Brownfield sites are defined as previously developed land, and since April 2017 local authorities have been required to keep brownfield land registers to provide publicly available information on brownfield land suitable for housing.

The research also found that 31% of self-builders were not aware of the brownfield land registers, but once the concept was explained to them almost double (61%) thought the registers had potential to help them find a suitable plot in the future.

Richard Norrington, chief executive of Ipswich Building Society, said: “Finding a suitable site is one of the biggest challenges that self builders face but in brownfield sites there is a massive opportunity for people who are open-minded and have vision. As well as there being strong social arguments for revitalising these areas, particularly around town centres, there are also sound environmental reasons as building on a brownfield site not only renews the area itself but also reduces urban sprawl.

“If the government is as serious about encouraging home building as it appears to be from the recent reforms and announcements, it needs to better promote brownfield land registers and it should offer individual self builders parity with commercial developers in terms of economic incentives.”

Over a third of UK adults are considering a self build project at some point in the future, with the main motivation cited by over half (51%) was the ability to design the layout of their own home, and the ability to make environmentally-friendly decisions about materials or the build process (28%) according to the research.

Norrington added:  “Since the introduction of  government legislation on 1 April 2016, self-build projects have become a more recognised and viable choice for many people. However, we feel that much more could be done in respect of brownfield sites. Ensuring brownfield land registers are more widely recognised, as well as making this type of site more attractive financially, would be beneficial to both the government’s housing targets and its environmental ambitions.”