We’re following the story of Anne, mother of six boys who is building a home for her family and one for the grandparents on the same site. They used the Right to Build to help them escape the private rental sector, acting as pioneers for the legislation, which even the council was unsure about at the time.

Anne's family

Part 5: The mystery of the road unravelled

A quick recap: 
We had found adjoining plots both owned by public service mission landowners – church and state – and both landlocked. We probably could not afford either but could we bring other values to the table? Could we find the owner of the private road and unlock access? And could we appeal to their mission interest in helping build local communities?

 

Could we build a community?

My visit to the first Right to Build Expo* had got off to a good start with NaCSBA Chair Michael Holmes explaining the public service mission aspect in ‘Best Value’ (blog 4).

From there it became an investigation into community building. My husband Peter, who is an architect, had already worked out that it was feasible to build two houses on the vicarage plot (managed by the Diocese of London) and a further 4-5 units on the Enfield Council-owned plot, so a small community project was plausible.

The breakout group session led by Tom Chance, Director of the National Community Land Trust Network helped to affirm some of our ideas. Community Land Trust is a way of holding land that embodies the sort of idea for affordability that we had been thinking about, where it is secured in perpetuity (see Blog 3).

It was developed in 1969 inspired by the earlier Garden Cities movement. How you get the land is another question, but in some cases it has been gifted or sold at a below market price by some philanthropic owner, and occasionally by a council. The Community Land Trust provides a legal form to put the land into a Trust for the benefit of the community and a lot of work has been done to develop a route map for interested groups and a governance model.

We were not expecting anyone to gift us anything, and we thought either the church or the council should retain the land. But we were starting to think that if we could make something work in terms of a self build, then we should be able to make it work for others too and it could be a community. I mentioned the idea to Tom and he encouraged me to apply for their ‘first stage funding’ that would fund one of their consultants to help us develop the idea. I did this the very next day.

Michael Holmes also gave me the contact details for ‘Faith in Affordable Housing’ (aka Housing Justice) an organisation working to promote housing justice and advise the church on disposal of land for affordable housing. I wrote to them too.

New facts change the playing field

But before we had much time to develop these ideas I heard from the vicar that the Diocese intended to proceed with the sale by November, so we decided to call to say we were still interested.

However, we had little idea how to negotiate, some ideas about persuading them not to sell the land but keep their ‘family silver’, an idea of working with the Council to develop both sites for a vague community housing scheme and another idea of adding value by unlocking the access road. With these ideas in mind I picked up the phone.

I had never got through to the Diocese Development Manager before, only his answer machine, but this time I did. He was friendly and I felt at ease, and to my surprise he informed me that the Diocese already owned the access road and they had bought it some time ago!

This was news indeed. Our idea of adding value looked a little naïve and now there was no mileage in it. I mentioned that I was pursuing the Right to Build both as an individual and as a community enterprise with the Council and would he be interested in combining the plots for such a venture.

He said they had been trying to purchase the plot from the Council but had not got anywhere for over two years and so the decision had been made to sell now.

At the outset the Diocese had previously obtained outline planning permission for a large vicarage. This consent was due to expire in 6 months, which meant that there was a glimmer of possibility for us.

He advised that Charity Commission rules permitted them to make an ‘off-market’ sale (eg. to us!) provided that they could show that they had achieved 10% above a market price. The market valuation was provided by auctioneers. He encouraged us to make an offer.

The plot was due to go to auction in November but we could potentially make a deal where we purchased the church land and access road for an initial sum now, but a further sum later if we managed to develop the Council site. He believed we might have more luck in the future with the Council than he had done to date.

A game of nerves

Could we possibly do it? We knew could not buy the land on our own. The rough auctioneers’ valuation was considerably beyond our means but the plot was big enough for two houses, so would we be able to get planning permission for two houses and find someone to partner with?

And even if we could what about our idealistic economic justice ideas of land not being owned… housing for benefit of community… which we were beginning to develop? Then there was the question of the Council. I had hassled them over the summer months to find out who owned the access road. Would it change everything if they did now find out who owned it?

 

Find your self and custom build register on the Right to Build Portal.

Read the other parts of the Self Build Family Build Blog.

Part One: Deciding to Self Build, the Turning Point

Part Two: Looking for Land in London

Part Three: The Land Value Idea

Part Four: A Small Matter of Access

Photo: printed with permission of Fiona Hanson 2020©

*The Right to Build Expos were professional focussed training events sharing best practice, delivered by the Right to Build Task Force 

We’re following the story of Anne, mother of six boys who is building a home for her family and one for the grandparents on the same site. They used the Right to Build to help them escape the private rental sector, acting as pioneers for the legislation, which even the council was unsure about at the time.

Anne's family

Part 4: A small matter of access

A quick recap: 
We had found two plots of land, adjacent to one another, one owned by the Council and the other by the Diocese of London. We’d made contact with both of these public service mission landowners, but had we come any nearer to getting a plot for our family home?

Having tracked down the Disposals and Acquisitions Manager (see Part 3) at Enfield Council, I gave him a call. I am not sure what I was expecting, but to my surprise he was an accessible man, warm, friendly and straight talking.

I explained the Right to Build and our desire to remain in the local area, which he deemed reasonable enough. I mentioned that we had identified a couple of council plots and shared my fears that we could not compete with well-resourced Property Developers but he was encouraging. In fact, he reckoned would-be owner-occupiers should be able to outbid developers who have to make profits over-and-above the costs.

However, this was simply a nice way to say that the council was obliged to get full market price on the open market!

I explained that our challenge was that we just wanted to build a family home, whereas a developer might build a lot of flats and outbid us that way! Or just sit on the land waiting for it to increase in value.

I pointed out that this was a growing trend in our area; numerous ‘luxury’ small apartments sold as investments or ‘easy commute from Eurostar and Heathrow’. These commuters would not be building communities or committing to the area long term.

The Disposals Manager got the point and said he would look at the site. He vaguely remembered talking with the church but the site was small, he was understaffed and it was landlocked. He promised to get back to me.

A plot with no access

A plot with no access – or is there?

Landlocked!

This was interesting; there was a little cul-de-sac and both the church plot and council plot seemed to have access off it. However, the one catch was that it was a ‘private road’.

I had not heard of such a thing or imagined it. It is a fact of life that a house needs a drive or an access to get to the front door. It may be just a strip of pavers but if one stops to reflect for a moment it is a big deal!

That connection to one unremarkable road is a connection to all roads, all houses, all shops – and in this case no development could take place without the access. How had it come about? Was all the land free and then some bits got turned into private houses and gardens? Or was it all private and some bits carved out and given to Her Majesty on our behalf?

The church plot was the unused end of a 170ft long garden. Similar garden plots of the neighbours were developed in 1990 into 3 red brick family houses and the cul-de-sac. After they sold the houses many developers would have got this road ‘adopted’.

This means that it is taken into the public road network, with the developers or owners no longer responsible for the maintenance. But that had not been done in this case, meaning that both plots were landlocked.

Who owned the road? Would they refuse access? Could they demand a Queen’s Ransom?

Perhaps this was our opportunity? It was too small a site for the Council to be much bothered with. But for us it was worth our while trying to unlock it, both for the Church and for the council, and perhaps creating an opportunity to use part of the site for a house for ourselves. Naive? Almost certainly, but hope springs eternal!

My husband had an idea that if the owners of the close wanted an excessive fee, then there might be an alternative solution for access through the vicarage plot – not that the church would want that but it could be a bargaining point. It was a glimmer of an idea.

I spent the next few weeks and months chasing the Disposals Manager and his assistant and looking for the owner of the close. I tried the Land Registry and Highways department but no luck. It turns out that it is far more difficult to get information from the land registry for a piece of land, like a road, that has no specific house address.

Subsequently I found that you can do a detailed map search to identify land but at the time the closest I came was to find out who the developers were of the houses on the close and get their accountant’s details from Companies House. I left a message and emailed asking if I could get into contact with the Developers. The council had not fared any better finding out who owned the road.

First Right to Build Expo

It was at this time that I saw an advert for the first ever ‘Right to Build Expo: Unlocking the Potential of Custom & Self Build Housing’. I immediately purchased a ticket and rather amused myself by signing as ‘Director, Fennell and Sons’ – true in a practical sense although it would make for interesting discussion if asked what my company did!

On the day I sat at the front and asked the first question. ‘The Right to Build has given hope to families like ourselves but public bodies such as the Council or Diocese have a duty to get Best Price for their land. How can we compete with a better resourced developer for these plots?’

It was the Chair of the Conference and of National Custom and Self Build Association, Michael Holmes, who gave me the answer: ‘It was not ‘Best Price’ that public bodies such as the Council or Diocese had to get but ‘Best Value’.

This was a significant difference. Best Value was not limited to solely monetary considerations – it should take into account wider benefits to the community and longer term cost benefits beyond the initial receipt for disposal of land. The real obligation would be to deliver value in terms of the public service mission that is their reason for being.

Could we and other families prove ‘best value’ in our desire to build up communities and commit long term? – This was our next challenge.

Find your self and custom build register on the Right to Build Portal.

Read the other parts of the Self Build Family Build Blog.

Part One: Deciding to Self Build, the Turning Point

Part Two: Looking for Land in London

Part Three: The Land Value Idea

Photo: printed with permission of Fiona Hanson 2020©

We’re following the story of Anne, mother of six boys who is building a home for her family and one for the grandparents on the same site. They used the Right to Build to help them escape the private rental sector, acting as pioneers for the legislation, which even the council was unsure about at the time.

Anne's family

Part 3: The land value idea

Our situation had become pressing – we were due to be turned out by our landlord of 10 years, we couldn’t afford to buy, and, as a family of 8, no one wanted to rent to us. So we decided to look at building our own home. In Part 2  we heard about the Right to Build, started looking for land and made contact with the Council.

So we were under way – our adventure had begun! We were stepping into the dark and I found myself enjoying the process. There was excitement in the chase, especially using a piece of legislation that neither we nor those we talked to really knew how it worked. We were making it up as we went along, and success or failure was not an issue (at least at this point), leaving us free to experiment.

Believing in the Right to Build somehow gave our aspiration life, and windows started opening. At this point we weren’t even sure if we could afford to do it, after all, can you build where you can’t afford to buy?

Peter (my architect husband) said there was a development rule of thumb: 1/3 for the land, 1/3 for the builder to build the house and 1/3 for the developer. We didn’t really know what was in the Developer’s 1/3, but knew that part of it must be wages, profit and fees, and we reckoned we could save on some of these.

But by how much remained elusive, for example, could the 33% be reduced to 13% and secure for us a house at 80% of market price? Probably not, and even 80% was beyond our budget!

We knew that most of what is referred to as ‘house prices’ is not about the house but about the land. So it can be argued that house price inflation in cities is actually the rise of land values over time.

Peter said that houses are like cars: they drop in value with age as they get closer to needing an MOT or the roof repaired. This is a simple and obvious truth once seen, but families miss this point, even while they feel the wrong of working hard and not being able to afford a house. Peter came across these ideas through an evening class called ‘Economics With Justice’.

The course puts forward the argument that society would be more equitable if inflated land values were retained for community uses. He wondered, could there also be a fix for the affordability problem in this? What if we didn’t actually have to buy the land?

Hearing about the Council’s duties under Right to Build had got us thinking about Council-owned land. Surely the Council must also be interested in answers to the affordability problem?

Here was the revolutionary idea– having found a Council plot, could we persuade the Council NOT to sell it to us?

As previously explained, It had been difficult getting to meet the Enfield Development Manager in the first place, and getting a post-meeting response was not much easier.

I eventually secured one by copying in our local MP, and when it came it was a full and considered response. It included the contact for the Right to Build in the Housing Team, an acknowledgement of the Council’s duty under the Right to Build Act and the information that 210 ‘interested parties’ had signed up to Enfield’s Right to Build register (at April 2017).

It was difficult trying to establish the right person to talk to about a plot, as it turns out that Housing, Property and Planning are all separate departments, something I had not realised. And naturally, they don’t necessarily talk to each other!

I thus went from a contact in Planning to a Housing contact to a Property contact (none of whom had a brief on the Right to Build) until I was finally given the email of someone with the title of Property Disposal Manager. I had finally got to a contact for someone who would be able to talk to me about the plot. It had taken a while and in the meantime another possibility emerged.

Another window opens

Every so often I go to the local church toddler group, and sitting round the table with my youngest on my lap the conversation turned to our housing situation. I’d plucked up the courage to discuss our hope of building, even though I was a bit nervous about discussing looking for land in London, as it seemed so unrealistic. But to my surprise the vicar’s wife said: “They are selling the land at the bottom of our garden – the Diocese have been talking about it for years”.

I went home and looked up the plot, and whether it was coincidence or fate, the garden plot backed directly onto the Council plot I had already been looking at.

So there was another Development Manager to talk to – this one for the Diocese of London. I emailed and asked about the plot and got an immediate reply. His reply was gracious.

They were indeed looking to sell the plot at some point although they were also trying to acquire the Council plot and they were obliged by Charity Commission rules to get best value. We now had two plots of interest and two public service mission landowners who might be willing to not sell to us.

We had made contact with the two property departments, although we didn’t want to tell them we were actually hoping not to buy; they wanted to talk to buyers!

We wanted to engage with them, and at the same time find out who might have the political mission to think about the wider issues around society and the affordability question.

Find your self and custom build register on the Right to Build Portal.

Read Part one of the Self Build Family Build Blog.

Photo: printed with permission of Fiona Hanson 2020©

We’re following the story of Anne, mother of six boys who is building a home for her family and one for the grandparents on the same site. They used the Right to Build to help them escape the private rental sector. We pick up from Anne’s decision to contemplate the possibility of building her own home.

Anne's family

Part 2: Looking for Land in London!?

Having decided to research the possibility of using the Right to Build as a route to solving our housing needs (read Part 1, here), I enlisted some help to find out more.

David Burrowes, my local MP, said he did not know a lot about the Right to Build legislation but would try to find out how it could be effective. He believed the local authority would be unlikely to want to help and would want to sell any Council land at the highest price for maximum profit. However he gave me the contact details of Enfield’s Head of Development Management – their chief planning officer – so that I could make some headway with the council.

Meanwhile, we started our own detective work searching for local land in the area, with Google maps proving a great tool. It was interesting to look at maps with a different eye, spotting little pockets of land that just might be plots and checking them out at the Land Registry. If you have an address this is simple to do online and costs only £3 per result.*

One plot that was of interest turned out to be made up of two triangles one private and the other Council owned. We also Googled “land owned by Enfield Council” and surprisingly they provide a full list. It had 2,300 lines and in a tiny entry amongst playgrounds, schools and car parks we found a couple of corner plots listed as “vacant land”, so it was time to talk to the council.

Since 2015 the government obliged local authorities to publish this information and introduced a ‘Right to Contest’.  They estimate that 40% of developable land is in public hands and if you think that any piece could be put to more productive use you can challenge them to sell.

Persistence pays

Getting to speak to Enfield’s Head of Development Management was no easy task. I left several messages and emails. No response. I took encouragement from listening to how Jamie Oliver got his breakthrough into the River Cafe. He rang every day trying to speak to Ruth Rogers leaving messages until one day he got through and was invited to an interview.

It became part of my routine. Every day I rang and left a message. I resolved to make each call as if it were the first time until one day he happened to pick up the phone. He was friendly enough and gave me an appointment for the next week.

The meeting however was rather disappointing as he was unaware of the Right to Build legislation and the Registers. However he did mention that our timing was good, as the council had to work out its approach to the legislation and how to incorporate it into the local plan.

During the meeting we tried to establish if he was the right contact for the Right to Build, but he didn’t know at that point. On a positive note, he looked at the plots of land we had identified and thought they had potential for planning but we would need to speak to the Property department about the possibility of purchasing them. Who knew that there was Planning, Property, and Housing departments and you would have to trek from one to the next!

Meeting the Self Build community

Meanwhile, my father in law had taken interest in our project and had subscribed to Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine. One of the Homebuilding & Renovating shows was coming up at Birmingham in March 2017 and he suggested we go. A train journey spent planning and we had a full day mapped out, starting with ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Building Your Own Home’ by expert self builder David Snell.

His practical overview dealt with finding plots, budgeting and finance, which was crucial as up to that point I had believed it was financially difficult, but he gave us hope and inspiration. When we met him later in in the Experts Area he congratulated us on our entrepreneurial work in searching for plots!

We also visited BuildStore’s self build mortgage stand, where they confirmed that our self build was viable from a financial perspective, with a mortgage financing the building in stages, including the purchase of land. Things were looking up!

Our last lecture was with Michael Holmes of Homebuilding & Renovating about the Right to Build, who was also on the board at the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA). He had been at the forefront of the new legislation and encouraging local authorities to release council land for self builders. He stressed how the Right to Build Act offers hope for residents wanting to build and live in an area where they have grown up in. The lecture was dynamic, inspiring, but did the legislation really have the teeth to force the local authorities to help self builders?

While chatting to Michael afterwards he advised us to push the local authority as much as we could. This is because they have to grant permission for the number of plots reflected by the numbers who have signed up to the register (in one base period) within 3 years. However, he also explained that this would not necessarily be to us. Our challenge would be to see if we could get them to release land to us, as we were pioneers!

Anne will be sharing regular updates on her journey to build her family a home.

Find your self and custom build register on the Right to Build Portal. 

*It’s hit and miss. Land is only registered if it has changed hands in the last 20 years and finding a piece that may not have a straightforward address – like a patch of land between two houses or a bit of private road – is more difficult. Also beware! If you Google “land registry” half of the sites are ‘services’ simply reselling land registry search at inflated prices. I paid £12 the first time before discovering this!

We’re following the story of Anne and her husband as they work to build a home for their family of six boys, and also build a home for the grandparents on the same site. Crucially, they’re building what they could not afford to buy in their local area, and they’ve used the Right to Build to help them achieve it. 

Anne's family

Part 1: Deciding to self build – the turning point

“You won’t get another fantastic opportunity like this at this price… it will be gone in days,” went the estate agent’s pitch. The fantastic opportunity was a tiny ex-local authority 2-up-2-down terraced house in an estate that would have been nice apart from the unkempt gardens, rubbish in the driveways and furniture in the backyards. The house had a loft extension, and it was only half a million pounds! I felt slightly sick at heart and the knot inside me tightened – I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe that this was the answer to our housing need.

We’d spent months looking for a new home. Our landlord of 10 years wanted his house back and in our search we decided to explore all options. Ideally we wanted to buy in the same area, so that we could stay close to our parents, not only to benefit from their help while the children were young but also to be useful to them as they grew older, and to remain in the community we had grown attached to and engaged in over two decades of marriage.

But buying in London suburbs is not easy, and with inflated house prices and a large family the options are extremely limited. What little that was suitable and in our price range was snapped up quickly.

A few weeks before I’d found a sweet ex-authority cottage in a nice setting that we could just about afford and I was determined to make an offer. But it was tiny, with two bedrooms but perhaps with the potential to extend into the loft. The downstairs floorspace was also small, but to me it didn’t matter as I thought we could make it work.

However, my husband Peter is an architect and he didn’t agree. His view was that the house couldn’t really cope with extending and although it would be ‘permitted’, that is allowable from a planning point of view, we would be the first in the block to do it and it would be unkind to the little house and out of place.

In reality, even when extended it would have been too tight for a family of six boys. I looked at Help to Buy but the homes within our price range were unsuitable apartments characterised as ‘luxury’, which in reality meant a few shiny taps and shiny floors, tiny box rooms and an enormous visitors’ toilet big enough to sleep two children.

Of course the fallback position was to rent again, but rents had also seriously inflated during the last 10 years we were in our home. Houses for rent were also obviously in short supply as they quickly disappeared off the market, despite huge upfront agency costs.

But there were other barriers. For us it was our children or rather the fact that we have six, and all boys. I would never say until I had to but one can hardly hide it and as soon as it came out the conversation would change. “Was I on benefits?”, “Was I 100% sure I wasn’t?”. Appointments to view houses were cancelled and on one occasion a holding deposit was given back because the landlady decided the kitchen was too small. I felt humiliated and never wanted to be in this position again.

A change of heart

Our prospects were bleak, but while standing in the tiny house looking at the dismal surroundings I had a change of heart and a spurt of determination. Peter had said that we should look at building our own house, and I had never taken it very seriously. I’d talked to a few friends and looked at a few auction sites but never really thought of it as a realistic option. But I decided to think again.

We lived in London, so where would we find the land? How could we afford to build? Most of our friends had said it was impossible. The obstacles and efforts had simply seemed too enormous. But now I was determined to give it a good try and at least if we did end up in the tiny house on the estate we would know that we had tried everything.

I wrote to an old friend who was a small builder/developer and asked for his advice. On the first day of the New Year of 2017 he wrote back, saying, “Very exciting to be looking at building your own home. It’s not easy finding a plot to be fair, but the Government seems to be more on your side than ever.” And he sent a link to the government press release ‘Boost for aspiring self-builders’. This was an encouraging and rather exciting moment.

The government was trying to help ordinary families build homes in the boroughs they wanted to live in. Councils were required to launch Self Build Registers for people to express an interest, and the Housing and Planning Act 2016 required local authorities to ensure that they had granted ‘permission’ for enough sufficient shovel-ready plots to match the local demand on their register.

What did this mean in practice? Could the Council really provide us with a plot? I somehow doubted it but I was determined to find out, so I signed our local Enfield self build register and requested an appointment with our local MP to find out just what the legislation intended.

Anne will be sharing regular updates on her journey to build her family a home.

Find your self and custom build register on the Right to Build Portal. 

2 September 2014

Participants in self build schemes should be given priority in UK home ownership, according to a leading Conservative Party blog.

{TEASER}

The ‘ConservativeHome Manifesto‘, published this week by the Tory-supporting website ConservativeHome, calls for home ownership to be actively favoured over professional property investment by giving planning authorities the option of requiring that homes in a new development only be sold to people intending to live in them.

It proposes that this new power be exercised locally on a case-by-case basis as a condition on planning consent for new developments – and recommends that it is used specifically to help participants in self build schemes.

The statement also suggests that a ‘right to build’ measure should be limited to self builders and not become a loophole for commercial developers.

The blog hopes that its propositions will be noted not only by those who are drafting the next Conservative Party manifesto, but also other political parties too.

The full manifesto can be viewed on the ConservativeHome website.

Looking to build your dream home?

We have everything to help you on your journey

Your one-stop-shop for self and custom build information and inspiration. Step should be to register your interest with councils, in the areas where you’d like to build.

Play Video

How we can help you

Tools for your self build journey

Moving you closer to building your own home

Building your home is incredibly rewarding, and it’s easier than you think! Most self-builders don’t lay bricks themselves, but manage professionals to build their home. If you don’t want to be hands-on, then commissioning a custom build house could be the right route. 

Potton Modern Country Cottage
Potton Modern Country Cottage

Moving you closer to building your own home

Building your home is incredibly rewarding, and it’s easier than you think! Most self-builders don’t lay bricks themselves, but manage professionals to build their home. If you don’t want to be hands-on, then commissioning a custom build house could be the right route. 

Play Video

Looking for a building plot?

Councils now have to grant sufficient planning permissions to match the number people who have registered an interest in building their own home. If you do one thing, make sure you’ve registered. 

Upcoming Self Build exhibitions

Self & custom build news

Kloeber adds new windows to its range for self builders

Glazing specialist Kloeber has added three new windows to its range of windows and doors, giving sel

50-plot East Suffolk custom and self build site applied for

Land promoter Leaper Land has submitted a planning permission for a 50 custom and self build site in

Ipswich Building Society research into the self build property market

New research by the Ipswich Building Society shows that 35% of people are interested in self buildin

1 in 3 British adults are interested in self build states new research

New research by the Building Societies Association and NaCSBA has found that 1 in 3 are interested i

BLOG: self building for a London family that can’t afford to buy!

Follow the story of one London couple on their self build journey, as they create a home for themsel

Graven Hill wins Best Residential Development in local awards

Graven Hill, he UK's largest custom and self build development, has been awarded Best Residential De

NaCSBA unites with other bodies to create Housing Diversification group

NaCSBA unites with other bodies to support housing diversification - taking the agenda to government

Eco house manufacturer Baufritz scoops Cambridgeshire business award

Eco house manufacturer Baufritz has won a local business award - could they be the perfect company f

National Self Build & Renovation Show – 16-18 October, still live at the centre!

Join the National Self Build & Renovation Centre on the 16-18 October for its live National Self Bui

Join Graven Hill at Build It Live 19-20 September

Join Graven Hill at Build It Live 19-20 September to discover more about the routes to building and

Kloeber adds new windows to its range for self builders

Glazing specialist Kloeber has added three new windows to its range of windows and doors, giving sel

50-plot East Suffolk custom and self build site applied for

Land promoter Leaper Land has submitted a planning permission for a 50 custom and self build site in

Ipswich Building Society research into the self build property market

New research by the Ipswich Building Society shows that 35% of people are interested in self buildin

1 in 3 British adults are interested in self build states new research

New research by the Building Societies Association and NaCSBA has found that 1 in 3 are interested i

BLOG: self building for a London family that can’t afford to buy!

Follow the story of one London couple on their self build journey, as they create a home for themsel

Graven Hill wins Best Residential Development in local awards

Graven Hill, he UK's largest custom and self build development, has been awarded Best Residential De

NaCSBA unites with other bodies to create Housing Diversification group

NaCSBA unites with other bodies to support housing diversification - taking the agenda to government

Eco house manufacturer Baufritz scoops Cambridgeshire business award

Eco house manufacturer Baufritz has won a local business award - could they be the perfect company f

National Self Build & Renovation Show – 16-18 October, still live at the centre!

Join the National Self Build & Renovation Centre on the 16-18 October for its live National Self Bui

Join Graven Hill at Build It Live 19-20 September

Join Graven Hill at Build It Live 19-20 September to discover more about the routes to building and

Kloeber adds new windows to its range for self builders

Glazing specialist Kloeber has added three new windows to its range of windows and doors, giving sel

50-plot East Suffolk custom and self build site applied for

Land promoter Leaper Land has submitted a planning permission for a 50 custom and self build site in

Ipswich Building Society research into the self build property market

New research by the Ipswich Building Society shows that 35% of people are interested in self buildin

1 in 3 British adults are interested in self build states new research

New research by the Building Societies Association and NaCSBA has found that 1 in 3 are interested i

BLOG: self building for a London family that can’t afford to buy!

Follow the story of one London couple on their self build journey, as they create a home for themsel

Graven Hill wins Best Residential Development in local awards

Graven Hill, he UK's largest custom and self build development, has been awarded Best Residential De

NaCSBA unites with other bodies to create Housing Diversification group

NaCSBA unites with other bodies to support housing diversification - taking the agenda to government

Eco house manufacturer Baufritz scoops Cambridgeshire business award

Eco house manufacturer Baufritz has won a local business award - could they be the perfect company f

National Self Build & Renovation Show – 16-18 October, still live at the centre!

Join the National Self Build & Renovation Centre on the 16-18 October for its live National Self Bui

Join Graven Hill at Build It Live 19-20 September

Join Graven Hill at Build It Live 19-20 September to discover more about the routes to building and

The Cambridge cohousing scheme, Marmalade Lane, has won the top award at the Royal Town Planning Insitute’s Awards 2020, adding to its already sizeable list of awards. Marmalade Lane was awarded the RTPI’s Silver Jubilee Cup having been entered by Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service and development company TOWN, which is a NaCSBA member.

A first for Cambridge, the Marmalade Lane cohousing scheme was given the top prize as the judges felt that it demonstrated the value of community-led housing and a collaborative approach to planning.

The judges commented that the development puts the needs of the residents at its heart, and has created a distinctive and sustainable neighbourhood that was full of character.

Sadie Morgan, design industry leader and Chair of the judging panel, said: “Marmalade Lane shows the importance in new housing developments of greater local participation, increased opportunities for accessing nature and the prioritisation of people over cars – its design has helped create a place with a genuine sense of belonging and a rich local culture that harnesses the humour and warmth that are so vital in these challenging times.”

Marmalade Lane

Cambridge’s first cohousing project has its roots in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, when the developers left the land in limbo. A cohousing group had formed in Cambridge, then called K1 Cohousing, and was looking for land, and the council supported the process of allocating the site for cohousing.

Working with community housing consultants Stephen Hill and Adam Broadway, they paved the way for the group to create Marmalade Lane and build the homes that supported them in the way they wanted to live.

Rather than pursue self build, Town was brought on as the developer, working with Mole Architects and Scandinavian eco-house builder Trivselhus to design and build the scheme on behalf of the residents.

The project is made up of 42 homes, customised to the residents preferences, but using a limited system of choice to ensure designs were replicable and cost-effective. This resulted in three house types, with 27 layout options, with mortgage finance provided by Ecology Building Society.

The result is a scheme of terraced houses and apartments, set around shared gardens and a pedestrianised play street, with a common house for socialising and cooking shared meals, should people wish to eat as a group.

What is cohousing

Cohousing is a form of community-led housing, where people come together to build and live in an ‘intentional’ community, with shared values. This may work with other community solutions, such as a Community Land Trust – which holds the land the project is built on in perpetuity, although this is not the case at Marmalade Lane.

A core principle is that most cohousing projects have shared elements. These often include a common room for socialising, but may include shared guest suites to keep spare rooms to a minimum, laundries, kitchens, and shared external design features, such as orchards, play streets, car parks, gardens and so on.

All the houses and flats have their own facilities, such as kitchens, so it is very much based around people wanting to live as part of a community, but they can still live independently. Costs and maintenance of the communal facilities are shared, so there’s typically a rosta for jobs.

But it represents a different way of living from the typical UK experience, where people and community underpin the homes, making it a transformative route to housing, that is growing in appeal.

 

Find out more about cohousing at Community Led Homes. 

Read about the Older Women’s Cohousing Group in London.

The news that many showrooms and show houses are starting to open up is welcomed, following the closure of so offices and many businesses during the Coronavirus stay-at-home measures.
Across the country a new normal is developing of businesses and sales rooms that are opening, but with new practices to ensure that both staff and visitors stay safe.
We’ve brought you information about some of the first businesses to return to a new normal – but please do let us know if your business is reopening to public visits. Email us on media@nacsba.org.uk

National Self Build & Renovation Centre

The doors at the NSBRC are set to reopen on the 17 June – along with new measures to ensure visits are safe as well as informative. Plus, following a successful run of online training events, the NSBRC is busy creating a new series of virtual events including training, Ask an Architect consultations, Facebook Live Guided Tours and more.
Visit the website for more information

Kloeber Showrooms

Bespoke glazing experts Kloeber is reopening all four of its showrooms in Cambridgeshire, West London, Buckinghamshire and West Sussex, with strict procedures in place including additional signage and gel stations. Nothing beats seeing products first hand when it comes to specifying items for your build, and award-winning Kloeber has a wide selection of products in engineered timber, low maintenance aluminium and alu-clad, all offering low U-values, high security and an extensive range of finishes and glass types, including the Funky Front door range (top picture).

Visit the website for details or book an appointment on call 01487 740044.

Potton Show Village

Potton’s five home show village is now officially open once again, on the basis that it is by appointment only on a one-to-one basis, so you will be the only visitors at the time of your appointment. This means you can experience the company’s homes and get ideas for your own project while staying safe. Plus Potton is hosting Facebook Live events: 2nd June ’24 Things to do Before you Start Onsite’ and 9th June 7:30pm, ‘How to Build on a Budget’
Visit the website for details

Graven Hill Digital Walkthroughs

Although the show house is still not open, Graven Hill has created online walkthroughs of its custom build homes products, including the 2-bed Avon, 4-bed Dorn and the newly launched 3-bed Tove. Check out the walkthroughs here. The Graven Hill site is now officially open for appointments to view houses and plots, by appointment only.

Visit the website for details