The Right To Build legislation

Provision for self-build and custom build are part of the law in England, but not in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

In England, the Right To Build legislation sets out the framework of Right To Build, and what it can deliver for you as someone who wants to build, or design, their own home. This set out the Government’s ambition to double the number of self-build and custom build homes by 2020.

The Right to Build went live on 31 April 2016, when the Housing & Planning Act came into effect. This means that, if you live in England, your local authority is now required to host a Right To Build Register. This is a way of them evidencing how many people want to build or create their own home in the regions.

The registers are paired with a duty for the council to supply sufficient serviced plots for the people on their registers.

You can sign up to your local council’s register at, as well as other areas where you may consider living.

Councils have three years to permission these plots from the date people registered, with each three-year-cycle starting from the 31 October. These make up their Right To Build responsibilities.

Permissioning doesn’t mean they have to provide a plot themselves, but they do need to consider local applications for plots, and ensure enough are being brought forward to the market, which they have granted planning permission for.

However, it does not mean that your council has a duty to provide you with the exact type of plot you want, in the area you prefer.

In a Freedom of Information request to all English Local Authorities in November 2017, NaCSBA found that there were 33,000 now signed up to the registers. Councils will now have to work to ensure they are bringing forward plots for custom and self-build.

And self-building doesn’t have to mean laying bricks. Custom build is a way of making self-build open to more people, where some of the hassles of self-building are removed. This is because you buy a plot on a site – so the search for land, applying for planning permission and getting the road and services is all done for you.

From this point, there are several routes to completion. Find out more here.

The Right To Build registers are very important pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of giving people the right to design their own home, to reflect their needs. So make sure you sign up to the ones in your area, and spread the word! 

 The legal context: 

The ‘Right to Build’ places two legal obligations on Local Authorities in England:

1. Under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 all Local Authorities in England must keep a register of people and groups of people who are seeking to purchase serviced plots of land in the authority’s area and to have regard to that register when carrying out their functions. 

2. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 requires all Local Authorities in England to grant sufficient ‘development permissions’ to meet the demand for Custom and Self-build housing in their area, as established by their register, on a rolling basis. Permissions equivalent to the number of people on the register from 1st April 2016 to 31st October 2016 should be granted by 31st October 2019. Permissions equivalent to the number of people on the register from 31st October 2016 to 31st October 2017 should be granted by 31st October 2020 and so on.