More support will be offered to people looking to start a building project, including affordable homes for their local community.
Self-build is an important element of the government’s housing strategy; it supports action to help new house building firms and also helps empty and redundant buildings back into productive use.
The measures announced today (17 September 2013) will complement steps the government has already taken to dismantle barriers that hold back self-build projects: limited land availability and reluctance by lenders to provide finance and red tape.
Communities Minister Don Foster announced a series of measures to ensure the self-build market is opened up to those that are earning lower incomes. These include:
New grant funding to be provided for community self-builders
Community self-build and community-led affordable housing projects will for the first time be able to apply for a share of £65 million from the Affordable Homes Guarantees Programme to build the affordable homes they want in their area.
Increasing land for self-build plots by working with councils
New planning practice guidance will be introduced to ensure that councils create the demand for self-build in their area, as well as take steps to assist aspiring self-builders. This will include compiling a local register of people interested in building their own homes so they can be given first priority when new brownfield sites become available.
Removing the unfair taxes from self-builders
New Council Tax discounts will be introduced for self-build family annexes, removing an unfair council tax penalty surcharge. Meanwhile, genuine self-builders will be exempted from paying inappropriate Section 106 tariffs and the community infrastructure levy, which in return will cut the cost of self-build homes by thousands of pounds.
The Freeing up of more redundant public sector land for self-builders
A review of the Homes and Communities Agency’s large number of smaller plots will identify those which are not suitable for large-scale house building, but are perfect for small housing projects like self-build. More property asset data will be published online and the Community Right to Reclaim Land enhanced so self-builders can request redundant public sector land is released and sold for self-build projects.
An end to the misconceptions about self-builds
Mr Foster said the measures would help end the misconception that self-build is the pastime of a privileged elite, rather than a mainstream option. In 2012 to 2013 almost 11,000 new homes were self-built, in an industry worth up to £4 billion for the UK economy.
He explained ministers were determined that anyone with aspirations to build their own home will have the opportunity to do so. He said over the next ten years the self-build industry can double in size.
Communities Minister Don Foster said:
For many people the concept of building your own home means one thing: a fantasy mansion built by people with deep pockets and endless spare time. We are determined to end this misconception so anyone with aspirations to build their own home has the opportunity to do so, including people on low incomes.
That is why we will give community-led groups the chance to apply for a share of £65 million to build the affordable homes they want in their area, and introduce other measures to boost access to land and end unfair taxes.
These measures will open the door for hundreds of potential building projects across the country, and consolidate the progress we’ve already made to establish self-build as a mainstream option.
Freeing up more redundant public sector land for self-builders
The government has taken the lead by increasing the opportunities for self-builders to gain access to plots on previously-developed and redundant public sector land. Eight sites have been identified with over 130 plots for self-build development, including a larger site of up to 60 homes at Trevenson Park in Pool, Cornwall.
Working with councils to increase land for self-build plots
The government has been working with councils and developers in order to identify opportunities for self-build housing in their area.
Over 50 councils are already offering assistance to self-builders and bringing forward sites and many developers are also exploring the self-build business model, with over 3,000 individual plots in across the pipeline across various projects in England.
To make the process of getting a self-build mortgage easier
Traditionally, lenders have been reluctant to give self-builders a mortgage before the house is built and valued, so government has been speaking to lenders about doing more for self-builders.
26 lenders are now offering self-build loans and gross self-build lending is predicted to increase by almost half between 2012 and 2015 to £1.9 billion a year.
Funding for community self-builders
Self-builders often find it difficult to raise the initial finance in order to get their projects off the ground, so the government has made £47 million of loans available to help aspiring self-builders and community groups.
Many schemes have been provisionally approved, these including sites in Derbyshire and Peterborough, with further bids expected in the months to come.
Raising awareness around self-builds
The government has helped launch the Self Build Portal, which is a comprehensive advisory site for self-builders, with Kevin McCloud from Channel 4’s “Grand Designs” as the industry champion to raise awareness of self-build as a viable option for people throughout the country.
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