Stoke-on-Trent City Council decided to offer six self build plots as it believes this will add to the diversity of new housing in the area.
It also feels the plots will help it attract wealth creators to the area, so it sees the plots as a way of helping to stimulate economic/regeneration activity.
The council has already subdivided one site in Penkull into six plots and has successfully sold all of them. Three further sites are in the pipeline which should deliver over 75 more homes.
The one-acre Penkhull site was originally acquired for a road scheme that is now no longer progressing.
The six plots here range in size from 365 sq m to 955 sq m.
As part of the initiative the council installed a road (that has been adopted) to connect to another section of land to the south, so that this can be developed for additional housing in the future.
The council spent £450,000 on the infrastructure – there were some complex water/drainage issues to resolve, which accounted for the bulk of this cost.
Outline planning permission was secured for all six plots; the individual purchasers are responsible for getting detailed permission for their own properties.
There is no Design Code, but the areas where the properties can be built are identified on each plan and there is a 2-3 storey height limit.
A public event was staged to gauge levels of interest in the plots in 2012 and more than 100 people attended. The really keen ones were put in touch with a specialist self build mortgage broker (Buildstore) so they could check what they could realistically afford to spend.
At the meetings with the would-be self builders the council provided some informal building and architectural advice/guidance. Some of the self builders had a good understanding of the design and construction issues; others were new to self build and were fairly naive.
The initial six plots on the Penkhull site were sold at a private auction (attended by only those that had been pre-vetted by the mortgage broker) in early December 2013.
Each plot had a reserve price of £75,000. This figure was suggested by the agents handling the sales. A total of £591,000 was raised. Plot 1 secured £105,000; plot 2 went for £89,000; plot 3 raised £124,000; plot 4 sold for £117,000; plot 5 achieved £81,000 and plot 6 went for £75,000.
The successful bidders have six months to get their detailed planning permissions, and a further 18 months to complete the homes.
The new road access to the south should ‘release’ a further £200,000 at some time in the future, when the land here is built upon.
The council has three further serviced plot sites identified, and is confident there is plenty of demand for these.
The total cost of all the infrastructure works on the first site was £450,000; if the council was doing it again it would find a simpler/lower cost solution to the drainage issues.
There were some challenges with VAT. The council did not want to have to charge 20% VAT on top of the sale price, as this uplift would put many people off. On the first Penkhull project the council was able to resolve this, but on future sites it will use a third party to manage the sales so that it can avoid charging VAT.