Government launches £150m fund to kickstart self build 'revolution'

The Government has launched a £150 million fund for self-build housing and outlined plans to turn the sector into a 'mainstream, realistic and affordable' option.

The plans will allow people to custom-build a new home with just a 5 per cent deposit alongside a Government-backed equity loan, similar to the Help to Buy scheme.

Alongside the mortgage deal – dubbed Help to Build – ministers have also announced funding for local authorities to develop public land for custom and self-build housing, alongside a review into how delivery can be increased.

Many people in the UK are interested in building their own homes but, unlike in Europe, the self-build sector remains a niche market, with just 7 per cent of all homes built in this way – an estimated 13,000 units in 2018.

However, the Government argues there is capacity to expand it and said if levels were similar to those in The Netherlands, the UK could see 30-40,000 self and custom-built homes constructed annually.

In 2016, the Right to Build legislation was brought in to help custom builders overcome the most common hurdle; finding a plot of land. Under the scheme, local authorities are required to log requests for plots on a dedicated Right to Build register and help find land for those who have an interest in building their own home. 

However, the scheme has been beset by problems. According to answers to Fol requests submitted by the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) in 2019, only 45 per cent of England's local authorities believed they had met their duties under the legislation. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now commissioned a review of the Right to Build scheme.

Funding worth £75 million for local authorities is now available through the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF), which includes a £25 million allocation specifically for self and custom-build. The BLRF is only available for local authorities to use on their own surplus land to help unlock small sites for housing development. 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: "Building your own home shouldn't be the preserve of a small number of people, but a mainstream, realistic and affordable option for people across the country. That's why we are making it easier and more affordable – backed by over £150 million of new funding from the government. The scheme will help the thousands of people who'd like to build their own home but who've not yet considered it or previously ruled it out."

This article originally appeared on Architects' Journal

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