NaCSBA has found that 40,000 people have now signed up to Right to Build registers across England, but that the Government’s Right To Build policy is a postcode lottery for anyone wanting to self build. In October NaCSBA issued a Freedom of Information request to all English councils to find out how many people had joined since 30 October 2017.
It found that 10,000 had signed up in the last 12 months, taking the figure to 40,000 from the 33,000 from the previous year. This figure includes everyone that has signed up since 1st April 2016. This means that 10,000 joined over the year, but that 3,000 were removed from the registers.
While NaCSBA is thrilled to see the number of people who have registered to build their dream home growing, it firmly believes that the numbers remain far short of the real underlying demand.
NaCSBA believes that many people don’t sign up to their local self build register due to barriers introduced by councils and also because authorities fail to promote their registers to their residents.
These restrictions can include local connection tests and charges to join and remain on registers. NaCSBA research* shows that while only a few councils placed restrictions on joining in the first year of the registers, this has now grown to over one in four.
Local connection tests
Councils are able to apply local connection or financial tests, but these must only be applied where there is a strong justification and in response to a recognised local issue. For example, these would be of value in a National Park or a small authority, such as a city-based one, where land is limited. These charges should be set to reflect the cost of managing the registers, but in actual fact they range from £50 one-off to £350 as a one-off charge and £150 for each year.
This is creating a postcode lottery for self build registers, meaning that some councils have lots of people signed up, while others have very few people. It also contributes to a domino effect as it shifts activity to councils that run open registers. NaCSBA believes that there are strong grounds to challenge this approach as it puts many people off signing up to the registers.
NaCSBA firmly believes that councils should be marketing their registers, but action is again limited, with one council noting that its proactive promotional activity consists solely of a “press release around the introduction of locally-set criteria and fee”. While NaCSBA is happy that most councils are managing their registers as part of the evidence of demand for custom and self build, it plans to use this data about the postcode lottery effect to raise its concerns with the Government.
Michael Holmes, NaCSBA’s Chair said, “While it’s great news that the numbers who want to self build has increased, NaCSBA has deep concerns that, rather than meet the demand for custom and self build homes through the granting of planning permissions to match demand, some local authorities are instead seeking to minimise the number of registrations.
“This is a direct challenge, not only to members of all parties in parliament who supported the legislation, but also to the 60% of the public who are interested in commissioning or building their own home. Through their actions these local authorities are reducing the number of homes that are built as well as depriving individual and families of the best and most cost-effective route to a well-designed home of real quality and value.”
Right to Build Portal
Anyone wanting to build or have a hand in a custom build home should sign up to their Right to Build via its Self Build Portal campaign site.
If a local authority imposes a fee NaCSBA still urges people to sign up as evidence of demand, but where people feel the charge is too high and refuse to pay, it suggests they write to the head of the council asking for their aspirations for a plot to be considered within the Council’s planning policy. NaCSBA can help with this if they contact email@example.com.