Communities Minister Don Foster has announced a series of measures designed to open up the self-build market to those on lower incomes.
Community self-build and community-led affordable housing projects will be able to apply for a share of £65 million from the Affordable Homes Guarantees Programme to build the affordable homes they want in their area.
Foster claimed that new planning practice guidance will be introduced to “ensure” councils establish the demand for self-build in their area, as well as take steps to help aspiring self-builders. This will include compiling a local register of people who want to build their own homes so they can be given first priority when new brownfield sites become available.
New Council Tax discounts will be introduced for self-build family annexes, while “genuine” self-builders will be exempted from paying Section 106 tariffs and the community infrastructure levy.
Foster added that a review of the Homes and Communities Agency’s large number of smaller plots will identify those which are not viable for large-scale house building, but are “perfect” for small housing projects like self-build. More property asset data will be published online and the Community Right to Reclaim Land enhanced so self-builders can request redundant public sector land is released and sold for self-build projects.
The minister claimed the measures would help end the misconception that self-build is the pastime of a privileged elite, rather than a mainstream option. In 2012 to 2013 almost 11,000 new homes were self-built, in an industry worth up to £4 billion for the UK economy.
He said the self-build industry can double in size over the next 10 years.
Foster said: “For many people the concept of building your own home means one thing: a fantasy mansion built by people with deep pockets and endless spare time. We are determined to end this misconception so anyone with aspirations to build their own home has the opportunity to do so, including people on low incomes.
“That is why we will give community-led groups the chance to apply for a share of £65 million to build the affordable homes they want in their area, and introduce other measures to boost access to land and end unfair taxes.
“These measures will open the door for hundreds of potential building projects across the country, and consolidate the progress we’ve already made to establish self build as a mainstream option.”
Raymond Connor, chief executive of BuildStore Financial Services, said: “This is another welcome package from the government, especially as it is aimed at opening the self build market up to more households. We know that there is a lot of pent-up demand for people wanting to build their own homes, so these measure will help to meet that demand, particularly at a time when there is a shortage of new homes.
“In particular, we welcome the new planning guidance to ensure councils assess demand and land requirements in their areas, and the exemption of self builders from Section 106 tariffs and the Community Infrastructure Levy, since these are two areas which often deter or prevent self builders from pursuing this route.
“There are already signs of improvement in the market, with the number of new self build mortgage applications up over a quarter – 26% – on this time last year, with expectations that this will grow faster over the next 12 months. The backlog of unsold plots are now finding buyers, and those who owned already owned land, but held off during the recession are now also coming forward looking to borrow the cash to build.”