The Best Local Authorities for Building Your Own Home
Building your own home is a common dream to have. The idea of designing every nook and cranny to suit your own specifications is a tantalising notion, often encouraged by architecture programmes such as Grand Designs or even by video games such as the ever-popular Sims franchise. However, while you might have an excellent idea for how you’d incorporate an elaborate staircase or designer bathroom into your build, getting to the point where you’re ready to break ground can be a difficult process.
From finding the right architect to obtaining planning permission, there are multiple issues that could impact your ability to build your own house. What’s more, these potential speed bumps can be more or less of an issue depending on where you live in the country. Therefore, to give you an idea of the best and worst places in the country to build your own home, we’ve put together the Homebuilders Report.
So, once you’ve found your perfect place to purchase a plot, you’ll be one step closer to owning your very own custom-built home, complete with underfloor heating, parapets, solar panels or whatever else floats your boat.
The best local authorities for building your own home
We’ve looked at a range of factors including the cost of land, the proportion of planning applications that are successful, and how much property values have increased over the last ten years. By combining these factors into a single Self-build Score, we are able to rank every Local Authority in England to reveal the best places to build your own home.
1. Dartford – Self-build Score: 8.46
The best place to build your own home is Dartford, which tops the table with a Self-build Score of 8.46. While land in Dartford is by no means the cheapest you’ll find, the area benefits from a high rate of successful planning permission requests, as well as having experienced an incredible increase in property value of 71.12% over the last ten years, which suggests any home you do build could be worth a lot more in the future.
2. North Hertfordshire – Self-build Score: 8.42
North Hertfordshire also performs relatively well across all three factors, especially planning permission, as an impressive 95.45% of planning applications are granted, while property values increased by 69.27% over the last decade.
3. Tunbridge Wells – Self-build Score: 8.36
Tunbridge Wells also has an excellent success rate of 96.37% for planning applications. However, it loses out on a higher finish due to its lower, yet still impressive, increase in property values of 64%.
The worst local authorities for building your own home
Having looked at the best places in the country to build your own home, we now turn our attention to the worst. These locations struggle to compete due to exorbitant land costs, difficulty getting planning applications accepted, or because property values have been stagnant in recent years.
1. Kensington and Chelsea – Self-build Score: 5.11
Kensington and Chelsea is the worst place in the country to build your own home. This is due to the incredibly expensive cost of land, which is at an absolute premium this far into London. As such, it finishes with a Self-build Score of just 5.11.
2. Westminster – Self-build Score: 5.34
Second place is a similar story with Westminster achieving a score of just 5.34. This shows that building in central London is the preserve of large scale developers who can use economies of scale to bring costs down.
3. Blackpool – Self-build Score: 6.24
Third on our list, and the worst place to build outside of London, is Blackpool. While this seaside Lancashire town benefits from relatively low land costs and an acceptable rate of successful planning applications, property values in the area have increased by just 14.24% in ten years. This means that any property you do build in the area is unlikely to increase in value by any large measure.
The places where land is the most affordable to buy
Having looked at the overall Self-build Score that each Local Authority area achieved, we can now look at some of the individual factors that influenced the rankings.
Here we can see the top ten most affordable places in the country for buying a 250 square metre plot of land, which is enough to build a medium-sized home with a small front and back garden.
A total of nine areas tied for first place with land costing £9,250 per 250 square metres. The most common region for this was the North West which accounted for four of the nine areas, including Burnley, Carlisle and Copeland. The East Midlands and East of England also featured quite prominently, with areas such as Bolsover, Fenland and West Lindsey making the cut.
Three locations also tied for tenth place at £10,000 per 250 square metres. These were South Tyneside and Redcar and Cleveland in the North East, and Ashfield in the East Midlands.
It’s also worth noting that not one location in the South of England made the list of most affordable areas for buying land.
The local authorities where land is the most expensive
Having looked at the most affordable areas for buying land, we now turn our attention to the most expensive. These areas will set you back quite the sum of money if you’re planning on building here.
1. Kensington and Chelsea Cost of Land per 250 m2: £4,036,875
Kensington and Chelsea have the most expensive land in the country at an eye-watering £4,036,875 per 250 square metres. If there’s one thing that won’t be made in Chelsea, it’s probably your new home.
2. Westminster Cost of Land per 250 m2: £3,392,875
Westminster has the next highest-value land, costing £3,392,875 per 250 square metres. As the centre of the capital, this high price is to be expected, as land is scarce and there certainly won’t be any spare for your home building project.
3. City of London Cost of Land per 250 m2: £3,201,250
In third place is the City of London, where land costs as much as £3,201,250 per 250 square metres. Any housing here comes in the flats to make the most of the expensive cost per square metre, so you’d be better off looking elsewhere to build your ideal home.
The local authorities where land is the most expensive (outside of London)
As all of the top ten most expensive areas for buying land were in London, we’ve also identified the most pricey areas outside of the capital.
1. Elmbridge Cost of Land per 250 m2: £232,000
Elmbridge has the most expensive land in the country outside of London, costing around £232,000 per 250 metres square. This part of Surrey borders the Southwestern London boroughs of Richmond Upon Thames and Kingston Upon Thames, showing that London’s influence on Land prices extends to its surrounding areas.
2. St Albans Cost of Land per 250 m2: £222,500
This picturesque Hertfordshire town is home packed with medieval and Roman history, as well as beautiful parks and architecture. Situated just north of Watford, St Albans acts as a commuter town for London, a fact which is clearly reflected in the sky-high cost of land.
3. Sevenoaks Cost of Land per 250 m2: £207,500
In third place is Sevenoaks, where enough land for an average-sized house costs around £207,500. This town in northwestern Kent sits on a mainline railway into London, which has made it a popular choice for people commuting into the capital for work, thereby driving up prices in the area.
As we have seen, proximity to London plays a large role in driving up the cost of land. Another takeaway is that not one area in the top ten most expensive locations outside of London is in the midlands or north of the country, highlighting a clear divide in land value between the regions.
The best Local Authorities for granting planning permission
Another key part of deciding which areas were the best for building your own home was the proportion of planning applications that are successful. Here we can see which Local Authorities approved the highest proportion of planning applications.
1. Isles of Scilly % Planning Applications Granted: 100%
The Isles of Scilly recorded a perfect score for allowing planning permission to applicants at 100%. However, this area also recorded the lowest number of applications, totalling just 33 in a whole year, so there is much more room for variation in this rate as time ticks onwards.
2. Bolsover % Planning Applications Granted: 99.48%
The second-highest rate of successful planning applications can be found in Bolsover, where 99.48% of applications were granted. This makes Bolsover a very promising location for building your own home, especially as it featured as one of the areas with the lowest cost of land.
3. Copeland % Planning Applications Granted: 99.44%
Just behind Bolsover is Copeland, a coastal area in the North West which also includes the Western part of the Lake District. Similarly to Bolsover, Copeland features as one of the most affordable places for buying land, which when coupled with a planning permission success rate of 99.44%, makes it an attractive location for building your own home.
The most difficult places for getting planning permission approved
Places where planning permission is more difficult to get approved, might not be the best locations for building your dream home. Here are the Local Authorities with the lowest rate of successful planning applications.
1. Barking and Dagenham % Planning Applications Approved: 60.03%
The area with the lowest rate of successful planning applications is the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, where only 60.03% of applications are granted.
2. Redbridge % Planning Applications Approved: 64.27%
The second-lowest rate of successful applications is found in Redbridge, the North East London borough which borders Essex. This leafy part of London is home to many parks and green spaces, which could go some way to explaining the 64.27% success rate of planning applications.
3. Hillingdon % Planning Applications Approved: 66.06%
Another London borough, this time on the capital’s western edge, Hillingdon has the third-lowest planning approval rate in the country at 66.06%.
We can see here that nearly all of the ten most difficult areas to get planning permission are in London, with the others being located in the East of England. This suggests that building near the capital is much more difficult than in less densely populated areas.
The areas where your property will see the biggest increase in value
Lastly, we take a closer look at the areas where house prices have risen the most in the last ten years. If you’re building your own home, you may want to aim for an area where prices rise faster so your property will be worth more in the years to come.
1. Hackney 10 Year Price Increase: 108.55%
Hackney is the area that has experienced the highest level of house price inflation over the last decade, with prices rising by 108.55%. Those lucky enough to have already owned their own property in the area could have seen its value more than double without having to lift a finger.
2. Waltham Forest 10 Year Price Increase: 106.52%
Waltham Forest came second with a ten-year price increase of 106.52% and is the only other Local Authority to have seen properties double in value over the same time period.
3. Lewisham 10 Year Price Increase: 90.43%
In third place is Lewisham, where property prices increased by 90.43%, bringing the average sale price of a home in the area to £447,500.
The areas where your property will see the biggest increase in value (outside London)
As each of the top ten places for house price increases was in London, we’ve also highlighted the top locations outside of the capital.
1. Thurrock 10 Year Price Increase: 76.47%
The best place outside of London for rising property values is Thurrock, which has seen an increase of 76.47% over the last decade. This area of Essex sits in the London commuter belt which has helped prices to rise to a current average of £300,000.
2. Gravesham 10 Year Price Increase: 74.16%
Just across the Thames from Thurrock sits our second place location, Gravesham, which experienced property price increases of 74.16% bringing local prices up to an average of £310,000.
3. Slough 10 Year Price Increase: 73.68%
Just to the West of London Heathrow airport is our third place entry, Slough. This area also benefits from close proximity to London and has seen local prices rise by 73.68% to an average of £330,000.
Despite removing London from this ranking to try and give a more general overview of property price rises across the country, every last one of the top ten locations are situated within a commutable distance from the capital. This shows just how much of an effect London has on inflating property prices in proximate areas.
The places where house prices have risen the least
Here we take a look at the opposite end of the scale to highlight the areas where property prices have experienced the least growth over the last ten years.
1. Isles of Scilly 10 Year Price Increase: 4.32%
The Isles of Scilly have seen the least growth in property values, with a ten-year price increase of just 4.32%. These remote islands are sparsely inhabited and difficult to reach, which could go some way to explaining the almost stagnant housing market.
2. Copeland 10 Year Price Increase: 6.78%
Copeland claims second place with a ten-year price rise of just 6.78%. This coastal part of Cumbria is mostly rural with few urban areas and can be difficult to reach, especially via public transport.
3. Richmondshire 10 Year Price Increase: 9.99%
The area with the third-lowest rate of property value increase is Richmondshire, North Yorkshire. This largely rural area is sparsely populated and includes a large portion of the Yorkshire Dales, although this hasn’t been enough to create the demand that would cause prices to rise.
We wanted to find out which parts of the countries are the best places for building your own home. To do this, we looked at the country by Local Authority as an impartial way of dividing the country into distinct areas.
The first factor we considered was the cost of land, for which we used Government data from 2019. This gave us the cost of residential land per hectare in each local authority, which we then converted into the cost of land per 250 square metres to reflect the plot size of an average home. Next, we used ONS data to find the median cost of houses in different parts of the country, and data on planning application success rates from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
We then combined these three datasets into one, using them to calculate an overall Self-build Score for each Local Authority. We then ranked each area by this score to reveal the best and worst places to build your own home. Additionally, we looked at each factor individually, as well as providing a view of the best and worst places in each region for each measure.