Plot sales are now live on an exclusive five-plot custom build development in Hailsham, East Sussex, for homes between 3-5 bedrooms.

The Paddock is the result of a partnership of Custom Build Homes and development partner and NaCSBA member Landström, with planning permission in place for five substantial properties of up to 252-396m² on plots up to 1/3 acre. The plots start from £230,000, and the homes, which have enough space for garages, are ranged around a shared central courtyard that provides each individual access.

Plots come with flexibility in terms of house design, size and specification, and purchasers will be able to design and create their home with Chartered Architect and Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine expert, Head of Architecture Allan Corfield, who is also a NaCSBA member. A design code and Plot Passports are in place to frame what can be created, as part of the planning permission from Wealden District Council.

This process includes a collaborative design process that will explore how purchasers want to live, culminating in a digital design with a fixed cost, that includes planning and technical design.

Tom Connor, CEO & Founder of Custom Build Homes said, “We’re excited to launch the development to market. The Paddock offers people in East Sussex the unique opportunity of creating a new home exactly as they wish it to be, while being supported by the experts at Custom Build Homes.

“I look forward to seeing the unique designs homebuyers create and the development becoming
an exemplar for future sites.”

Find out more about The Paddock

Custom Build Homes has secured outline planning permission at Cross Nursery in Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire for 14 detached homes that can be customised to buyer’s choices. Coming to the market in 2023, the development includes a range of house and serviced-plot sizes.

The company secured outline permission with the help of planning consultants Tetlow King Planning on the site of a derelict former horticultural nursery site in a semi-rural location in the Hertfordshire Green Belt.

The plots are laid out in an attractive landscape, and come with permission for “blank canvas” homes that are fully customisable, with buyers having freedom of choice around room layout, interior fixtures and fittings and green utilities. There is also the opportunity to build in greater affordability by using “sweat equity”, whereby owners can take part in their home’s completions.

Forward looking policy

The application at Cross Nursery was approved in compliance with Broxbourne Borough Council’s supportive local planning policies, which enables suitably designed custom and self-build housing to come forward on former nursery sites in the borough. This is despite being classified as inappropriate development under Government Green Belt policy.

In making the planning case Custom Build Homes worked closely with Tetlow King to present a strong demand, viability and design-led case, with BuildStore and Custom Build Homes’ demand data being an important part of the planning arguments.

Custom Build Homes praised the officers at Broxbourne Borough Council for their positive and consistent engagement on the Cross Nursery site, with Mario Wolf, Director of Planning at Custom Build Homes saying: “We are delighted to have secured planning permission for our customisable homes range on this challenging green belt site.

“As a specialist enabler of custom build housing, we work closely with our landowner clients and local authorities to design high quality housing communities which maximise value and are sensitive to their local context.”

Find out about Custom Build Homes other developments

Find your self build register on the Self Build Portal.

If you work in the custom and self build sector don’t miss NaCSBA’s first conference, on 1 November at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon.

Themed around the idea of remaining resilient in the current market, the Custom and Self Build Conference marks Right to Build Day 2022, the date when the registers close on the 30 October for another complete base period of the local authority registers.

While numbers on the registers are growing, research shows that many people remain unaware that they can sign up to the registers, six years on from them commencing.

Find your local self build register

For these working in the industry, the conference is an essential opportunity to find out more about a range of factors impacting development, including many environmental changes.

Free for NaCSBA members, the conference brings together leading stakeholders from across the sector, such as custom build enablers and planners. Self Build Portal users can get 50% off, using the code PARTNERS (see below for instructions).


Running order to be confirmed, but sessions include:


*Speakers and subjects may change. Conference runs from 9:30-4:30


FREE – NaCSBA members (up to two tickets for Regular members and six tickets for Gold Partners).

£195+VAT for conference only

£295+VAT combined conference ticket and NaCSBA’s Custom and Self Build Market Report (PDF and hard copy while stocks last).

Anyone joining NaCSBA as a member during or in the week following the event will have the cost of their ticket repaid.

Register for a ticket

To access the 50% discount, use code PARTNERS to generate a halfprice ticket – simply click the link and then the TICKETS button on Eventbrite – then click ADD PROMO CODE (in blue) and APPLY to generate the discount.

If you are a NACSBA member contact Duncan on for your code to get a free ticket.

Government has released plans to tackle the issue of ‘nutrient neutrality’ – which has prevented any building, including self builds, from taking place in many counties across England.

Backed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the plans recommend a new mitigation scheme, which will mean that building can take place where certain conditions are met.

What is nutrient neutrality?

Natural water habitats are typically affected by the excessive run off of nutrients, which has an adverse effect on the delicate water-based environment, leading to algal blooms that threaten flora and fauna.

Such nutrients are usually due to run off from farming, such as fertiliser or effluent from chicken farms, or from untreated water being shed from water treatment plants that are not up to the job.

But construction has also been blamed for this, with 74 English counties affected – either wholly or areas within them. This led to a blanket ban on all new construction on undeveloped land in some areas, which has been in place for several years now, such as in Herefordshire.

What is the nutrient neutrality scheme?

Government’s new scheme is based on the idea of mitigation, meaning that you can effectively put in additional measures to offset any potential damage. These offsetting measures will then improve the local situation for wildlife. These may be through physical schemes or though a process where the developer (and presumably the self builder) can buy ‘nutrient credits’. These then contribute to mitigating measures built locally, rather than on each site.

These may involve local Sustainable Urban Drainage systems (SUDs), new or expanded wetlands and woodlands and so on, to support and promote new local habitats.

Once agreed, permission can then be granted for work to go ahead. Natural England will be the accreditation body overseeing this credit element, and government is also creating a a legal duty for water companies in these areas to upgrade water treatment works by 2030 to the highest levels.

Levelling up secretary Greg Clark added: “It is essential that new homes do not impair the quality of our rivers, streams and wetlands. These measures will ensure the development can take place, but only where there is practical action taken to protect our precious aquatic habitats.”

Image by choi from Pixabay

Turn-key, timber-frame housebuilder Dan-Wood has started work on site on its 30th house at the Graven Hill community in Oxfordshire.

Every Dan-Wood house on the site reflects individual styles, shapes and sizes, as selected by customers working within the framework of a Plot Passport. 

The latest Dan-Wood home going up is no exception, as the owners wanted an ‘upside down’ layout. 

This means that the main living areas, where people spend most time such as the living room and kitchen, are on the first floor, with the bedrooms and utility room on the ground floor. This way, the new owners can enjoy picturesque open views across the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside.

The bespoke design also features vaulted ceilings, striking black and red timber cladding, and maximum energy efficiency with solar panels, an Air Source Heat Pump and a roof overhang to avoid overheating in summer.

Dan-Wood houses are prefabricated which means that every component is designed and built in Dan-Wood’s factory in Poland, then shipped to the UK and delivered to a plot on an appointed day.

Dan-Wood offers a full service from initial design through to full ‘turn-key’ construction. Everything, from initial design through to interior decoration, is included in a fixed price, with exceptional thermal efficiency and ventilation – which comes as standard in every Dan-Wood house – ensuring comfortable, cost-effective and energy-efficient living.


Some of the houses built by Dan-Wood at Graven Hill, including the show house (Centre image)

“Building at Graven Hill has many benefits, not least that customers know they will have guaranteed planning permission, and that the plot is already fully serviced for utilities,” says Lucy Yendell, Dan-Wood’s agent who has been involved in the Graven Hill development since plots were first released in 2016. “And since we began building here, the whole process has become more streamlined and straightforward.”

“We also have a show home at Graven Hill which has become a useful centre for Dan-Wood throughout the South of England. For many clients, seeing a show home or a house being built is an important step in their decision-making. Visiting Graven Hill also gives them an opportunity to see the many different styles of houses that are being built here, including the Dan-Wood terraced houses which were built for the open market and sold very quickly.”

To find out more about Dan-Wood’s work at Graven Hill, visit the website.

With many homes completed or underway, Graven Hill has released the latest nine plots for self builders at Bicester based self and custom build development. More plots will be released as the year progresses.

As well as offering a route to market for anyone wishing to build but struggling to find plots, Graven Hill is firmly establishing itself as a vibrant community of like-minded residents from first-time buyers to retirees.

Interest in the new plots is high, with prices ranging from £235,000 to £265,000, with the largest able to cater for a 6-bedroom home. They are in a character area of the site called ‘Circular Railway’, which incorporates features of the existing historic railway and next to green spaces.

As with most custom and self builds at Graven Hill, each plot comes with its own unique ‘Plot Passport’ that sets out the parameters for what can be built on that plot. This includes, for example, the maximum number of bedrooms and gross internal areas and also the choice of pre-approved building materials.

Financial support in the form of the Government’s new Help to Build scheme is also available on these plots, allowing buyers to benefit from a 5% deposit, alongside a Government-backed equity loan.

Custom build options

A range of new custom build homes are also due to be launched soon, for those wanting personalisation, without having to don a hard hat.

With these homes, the earlier in the build process the homes are purchased, the more customisation options the buyers will have, including layout, fixtures and fittings. Those purchasing custom builds will also be able to take advantage of the Help to Build scheme.

Gemma Davis, customer experience director at Graven Hill said: “The UK housing market is undergoing huge change and we’ve seen a dramatic spike in interest in self-building. Unfortunately, in the past, plot availability, finances and planning permission have all acted as barriers, with only a small minority able to overcome them. However, we’re changing this with the housing options we provide at Graven Hill.

“Our self-build plots have always been popular, getting snapped up quickly, and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. Self-building results in a truly diverse community, which celebrates the uniqueness of its residents. This is in stark contrast to the cookie-cutter homes that have come to be associated with new build developments. The people who purchase our new plots will be adding their personality to Graven Hill, and we can’t wait to see the result.”

To find out more about the plots contact Graven Hill 

Roads and services have gone in in the innovative 12 home custom build Pound Lane site in Laindon, Essex, with plots available to buy now.

Located near to Basildon, the site is in a wooded setting, with links to Fenchurch St Station in London taking just 35 minutes, making it a fantastic choice for commuters. The homes come with private gardens and a communal garden, with an optional on-plot garage.

Buyers can choose the layout, size and fit out of their home, working to one of the three pre-designed home types, as specified in the planning permission. Each design is linked to one of the plots in the planning permission (see colour coding on plan below), so buying early ensures you have the widest choice of optoins. There are two house sizes on offer, and prices start from £445,000.

For example, Plot 6 with its S6 House design costs £235,000 for the 5,931 sqft plot, and the build price should be between £210,000 to £350,000 depending on your route and specification.

Buyers can choose two routes to ownership –

A la Carte Design – with this route you work with a Customer Coach to go through a series of choices based on a palette of materials and layouts, which are already costed out to make the process transparent when working with budgets.

DIY Design – this gives you far more freedom when it comes to designing the layout and specification, with only the position of the stairwells and utility risers being fixed. Buyers buy the weather-proof shell and can then take the house through to completion. The Customer Coach is available to support people through this process.

The project is unusual in that it is a collaboration between a team of companies, including architects, AOCMae and Pitman Tozer and custom build enabler Unboxed Homes

Pound Lane plots

Unboxed are filming blogs as activity takes place at Pound Lane on YouTube, take a look here.


Unboxed Homes has recently completed a terrace of custom build homes in Peckham, London, Blenheim Grove, and is working on a group custom build scheme in London.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO of the National Custom and Self Build Association, recently joined Richard Bacon on a fact finding trip to Germany to visit a show park of self build homes.

The trip was an opportunity to see how such parks operate and engage with people wanting an owner-commissioned home, as the system was included in the Bacon Review, in connection to scaling up custom and self build. In the review, one of the recommendations was to raise awareness of self build and show by ‘doing’. 

This included the ask that government consider supporting the creation of a ‘Show Park’ of owner-commissioned homes. 

How do show parks work?

There is a prevailing myth around self build that it is a DIY route where people literally build it themselves, laying bricks in the evening after work in the dark. This is false, as it represents just a tiny fraction of what custom and self build actually represents.

In reality, nearly all of these homes are owner-commissioned, meaning that the ‘self builder’ identifies companies that they then contract to build their home. This might be on a self build basis, where they source their own land, architects, builders and so on right through to completion, or on a custom build model where they work with enablers or developers that have undertaken the initial tasks of creating plots with planning permission and service in place.

Effectively, these ‘oven ready’ plots can then be bought, and the owner can then commission the home to go on them. In some models the designs and companies might be linked to the plot, but in others buyers can commission who they like, as long as they build to the requirements set out in the plot passport.

And this is where a show park comes in. Many custom and self build homes are delivered by package manufacturers, where they build your home offsite in a factory, using one – or a tailored version – of one of their designs. This is then shipped to site and rebuilt, ready for second and first fix. Again, depending on what you agree and the company’s model, the house manufacturer may undertake this, or hand over the weathertight shell for you to contract trades to take the house to completion.


The Show Park idea would see a range of these manufacturers all building one house on the park, so buyers can visit and experience the homes, with staff or exhibits in each house that explain that companies approach and designs. As such, it becomes a marketing opportunity for a range of package manufactures, and empowers consumers – as effectively the park is a huge house shop.

Whether the idea of a show park goes ahead, the potential for custom and self build has never been greater, and government believes that it could deliver up to 40,000 extra homes a year.

Anyone wanting an owner-commissioned home within commuting distance of London will be pleased to learn that Ebbsfleet Garden City has got the green light for a new custom build community, Alkerden Gateway.

Over the summer, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s planning committee granted planning permission for new development, made up of 67 homes, 17 of which are affordable. Purchasers at the site can select from a choice of layouts, materials and fixtures and fittings on each home. Other options include choices around parking spaces, solar PV panels, trees and bird or bat boxes.

Designed by award-winning architect BPTW, construction on the homes has started already, with developer Westerhill Homes building the homes.

Alkerden Gateway is the first key development parcel in Alkerden Village, and is surrounded by parkland, an education campus and other residential developments. In time, Ebbsfleet Garden City will have 15,000 homes

What is a garden city?

Garden communities, which include Ebbsflett, garden towns and villages, have their roots in the Garden City movement that originated at the end of the Victorian era. They were originally envisioned as a new, self sustaining communities that were carefully planned, often like a cartwheel, with concentric circles of housing, gardens and allotments and work spaces radiating from a central hub.

The idea was to capture the best of the city and countryside, while avoiding the worst of both. At their best they were designed to be local, and largely walkable, although the principles involved in the originals at Welwyn and Letchworth Garden Cities were not always applied. There are now many garden towns and cities planned across the country, as the idea has once again come into fashion.

Julian Moat, Planning Director at Westerhill Homes said: “As a Kent-based housebuilder, we are delighted to have secured planning permission from Ebbsfleet Development Corporation for the delivery of our exciting, bespoke custom build homes at Ebbsfleet Garden City.

“By working with an outstanding project team – including BPTW Architecture, LUC landscape design and Knapp Hicks engineers – we have developed an innovative six stage customisation process for all private market homes. This will allow individual purchasers to make a series of external and internal choices to their homes at the point of reservation, meaning the homes can be tailored to suit their design preferences and lifestyle choices.

“We anticipate a strong market demand for customisation in the new build market, and coupled with the strong pull of Garden City living, we fully expect these new homes to prove popular as we now commence on the marketing and delivery aspects of the site.”

Chris Bath, Partner, Architecture at BPTW, said: “Marking the only custom-build phase in the wider Whitecliffe masterplan, for us, Alkerden Gateway, presents an exciting opportunity to design an innovative community that both speaks of its setting, and embraces the full potential of a homeowner-led, organic variety across the scheme.

“Over the past few years, we’ve been proud to be involved in projects at Ebbsfleet Garden City and across the South East, and this development demonstrates our continued commitment to delivering high-quality new homes and transformative new places for the area. We’re delighted to see Alkerden approved at committee and look forward to seeing the next stages of the project come together.”

NaCSBA spokesperson Duncan Hayes said: “As large-scale planned communities, garden communities have the scope to include a diverse range of routes to housing, and NaCSBA would like to see custom and self build included in all garden towns and villages. Alkerden Gateway is a welcome addition to Ebbsfleet Garden Village, and addresses the lack of supply of custom build homes in the market locally.”


The Structural Timber Association (STA) has published a new guide for consumers, Mortgages for Timber Self Build Homes, to support anyone wishing to commission their own home with timber.

The Grenfell Fire triggered a crisis for cladding, which inevitably became wrongly associated with issues around timber in general as a build system, and resulted in some self builders questioning their choices around timber.

However, timber is a universal choice for housing across the world, and evidences great longevity when specified and built properly.

Self build has traditionally embraced a range of innovative housing choices – and timber remains a trusted and practical approach for a range of applications on owner commissioned homes – not least timber frames.

To alleviate concerns about the mortgageability of such methods, the Structural Timber Association has published a guide that addresses concerns and sets out the parameters for anyone building with wood.

The guide points out that the idea that timber systems are difficult to mortgage is a myth. Instead, it stresses the fact that self builders must follow the rules lenders set around features such as cladding, as with any mortgage, as this sets the parameters for the risk to the mortgage company. This ensure that the resale value is protected.

The guide explains how these principles are applied by mortgage lenders, and what the rules mean for your choices. It also helps you understand how you can ensure that your design complies with your lender’s eligibility rules.

The STA has a library section that includes a range of helpful guidance for both professionals and consumers (search for self build in the box) around the use of structural timber in properties, including:

In addition to the new guide – part of a range, the STA runs its own accreditation scheme for its members, STA Assure. By choosing a company that a company that is accredited by the scheme self builders can have confidence that their supplier is competent and qualified to the latest standards.


About STA Assure

The STA Assure Membership and Quality Standards Scheme sets performance levels of STA members and non-members, based on a rigorous and independent audit. This safeguards the self builder, enabling them to partner with reputable company for their build,

STA Assure is recognised by the NHBC and six of the industry’s leading structural warranty and building control bodies – LABC Warranty, Premier Guarantee, Protek Warranty, Build-Zone, Self-Build Zone and ABC+ Warranty.

The guide is free to access upon registration. Read the mortgage guide, or find a Structural Timber Association member for your build.

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