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More than half of councils in England support self-building in local plans

Over half of local authorities in England support customs and self-build home in their local plans, with 58% supporting the sector, according to new research.

The analysis of all current and emerging local plans across England by the Right to Build Task Force points out that this is up from 24% in 2015.

It explains that local plans are a key tool available to help authorities meet their legal duties under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015.

The assessment revealed that 76% of authorities who have adopted a local plan after the legislation was introduced, now have a planning policy which supports Custom and Self Build housing, up from 13% from the pre-legislation position prior to April 2016.

It also found that while adopted post-legislation plans are becoming more ambitious, with a range of approaches emerging in practice, few offer the necessary meaningful support within the spirit of the legislation and Government policy. Most only include vague policies supporting Custom and Self Build housing in principle, without enabling development to come forward.

However, the Task Force also found that of those authorities who are introducing new policies, there are some good practice examples emerging that should pave the way for more sector growth.

The main policy approaches being used were found to be land allocations and identification of larger sites at 28%, affordable housing policies at 24% and percentage policies at 19%.

In particular, the research found that some authorities we¬¬¬¬re taking a ‘package’ approach by setting out a wider delivery strategy with a mix of policies, which the Task Force considers to be good practice in local plan preparation.

Two examples serve to illustrate this approach. Bristol City Council’s emerging local plan sets out a range of measures. These include site allocations; support for community led housing projects to provide policy compliant affordable housing; a percentage policy for larger sites; and, identified opportunities in growth areas.

Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s adopted Core Strategy supports Custom and Self Build as an integral part of the housing mix within identified new settlements; setting a requirement that at least 5% of plots should be made available to self-builders on larger housing sites; allocating sites; and, policy support for Custom and Self Build on unallocated sites within main rural centres and local service villages.

It adds that ‘package’ approaches can accelerate more Custom and Self Build housing projects to come forward, especially if combined with Supplementary Planning Documents or guidance which some authorities have introduced.

‘The Right to Build Task Force works with a range of stakeholders, many of whom are local authorities, to facilitate Custom and Self Build, and welcomes the findings that two thirds of English authorities now have policy provision for Custom and Self Build,’ said Mario Wolf, director of the Right to Build Task Force.

‘However, our research has also found that there is a long way to go. It is unacceptable that almost five years on from the 2015 Act that almost one in three adopted post legislation plans and one in four emerging local plans are making no provision for Custom and Self Build housing. We hope that those authorities without policies will soon act to ensure that their local plan facilitates more local communities to build owner commissioned homes,’ he pointed out.

‘Thanks to its breadth of expertise in Custom and Self Build, the Task Force is uniquely placed to support authorities, and other stakeholders, to bring forward local initiatives which can help scale up much needed additional housing supply whilst also delivering better designed homes that more people aspire to live in and that communities are happier to see built,’ he explained.

‘Our work enables us to share learning nationally to help local planning authorities bring forward effective planning policies to support their duties under the legislation in line with local priorities,’ he added.