7 July 2012

Seven large sites have been earmarked by the Government specifically for self builders. Collectively, they should provide plots for more than 100 innovative custom built homes.

The announcement comes on the same day as Housing Minister Grant Shapps revealed details of the much-anticipated £30million Custom Build Investment Fund (formerly known as the ‘Revolving Fund’). This fund offers short-term loans to community groups, builders and other small organisations looking to start self-build projects.


The additional land and the new fund are part of the government’s wider efforts to help double the size of the self-build sector.

UK’s first large scale self build communities to become a reality

The seven sites should deliver at least 100 new self build homes.  The first to be made available, on surplus public sector land in Trevenson Park, Pool, Cornwall will offer 60 homes, making it the nation’s first ever large-scale self build community.

The Housing Minister also confirmed that six other sites are being made available. They are:

  • Kingsweir and Torpoint, Bristol
  • Spencers Park, Hemel Hempstead
  • Pleasley Colliery, Bolsover
  • Upper Tuesley Milford, Surrey
  • Wilson Road, Hanford, Stoke-on-Trent; and
  • Chase Avenue, Walton Park, Milton Keynes.

Mr Shapps has also asked the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to continue identifying sites to be dedicated to group self build projects. He is particularly keen on this approach in the wake of his recent visit to Almere in the Netherlands – Europe’s largest low-cost self-build project.

The Minister also praised the work of Cherwell District Council in Oxfordshire, who are following Almere’s lead by offering specific sites to local people looking to build their own home.

Financial support for self build start-ups

The Custom Build Investment fund is designed to offer people the money they need to lay the foundations for their self-build projects – the first time this has been done in the UK.

The money could be used to pay up to 75 per cent of a project’s land and early construction costs, but will only be available to organisations planning to build five or more homes on a given site.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce the first seven sites with plots available exclusively for self-builders, as well as £30million to offer short-term loans to help communities get their projects off the ground.

“This first-ever package of self-build support will help to achieve our goal to double the size of the industry over the next few years, but I want us to go further still. The new national planning rules require councils to consider the needs of self-builders in their area, and I would urge authorities across the country to look to Cherwell and the innovative work there as an exciting example of how this can be achieved.”

The National Self Build Association’s Self Build Champion, TV presenter Kevin McCloud, said:  “Across the UK there are scores of communities keen to work alongside each other to build their homes collectively. By pooling their talents on group self build projects, they can construct great custom-designed homes at a fraction of the normal cost.

“Until now, it has been difficult for groups of people to secure funding from conventional lenders to buy larger chunks of land to split up into individual plots. Similarly, it’s difficult for collectives to obtain finance to cover the initial infrastructure costs on group self build sites. This fund will be widely welcomed, and should lead to many pioneering group self build projects taking off. It should also be applauded by small builders and specialist self build ‘enablers’ as they too can apply for finance to help kickstart multi-plot self build projects.”

Pat Ritchie, chief executive of the HCA, said: “We welcome this development finance, which will help provide a much-needed boost to the self-build sector. We’re also pleased to be able to put forward several of our own sites, which we hope will help groups of potential self-builders access a supply of land. These measures aim tackle the key barriers to getting self-build housing schemes off the ground.”

For a simple explanation of the Custom Build Investment Fund, click here.

Click here to download the fund Custom Build Fund prospectus – this explains all the details you need to prepare a formal submission to the fund.

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