The Housing & Planning Act came into effect on 31st October 2016. With it came the requirement for local councils to take action by monitoring the demand for self and custom build in their areas and ensuring there are enough permissioned plots to meet it.
You may recall the first part of this legislation, the Self & Custom Housebuilding Act, went live in April. At Build It’s last count in late November, all but 13 of the 336 local councils and national parks had introduced a demand register. I know the National Custom & Self Build Association (NaCSBA) is planning to chase up the laggards and persuade them to comply with what is now law.
If this crucial addition to the self and custom build armoury is to work, it’s vital that local authorities not only keep a register, but actively publicise and promote it. If the databases have only a few applicants listed then there will be a valid excuse to claim that there’s little demand for self and custom building – a position we know to be false from Ipsos Mori polls. If you’re looking for land and haven't already done so, get yourself registered.
Another important point here is that the 12 vanguard councils who pioneered the registers in their areas already have many applicants. However, if you signed up to one of those you’ll need to resubmit your details on the new databases put in place since the Act came into force, otherwise they will be invalid. If you’re unsure whether or not this applies to you, check with your local authority to ensure you feature on a compliant list.
It’s also vital to note that plots won’t instantly become available. Each local authority has three years to permission suitable sites against a base period. The first base period was from the introduction of the Act on 1st April this year, to the day when Section 10 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 comes into effect (I’m taking this to be 31st October 2016).
Subsequent base periods will be the following 12-month blocks of time after this date. Therefore, anyone registering in the spell from 31st October 2016 to 30th October 2017 could be waiting until 1st November 2019 before the local authority could be deemed to have failed in its duty to identify sufficient building sites. Of course, one hopes that plots would become available well ahead of this deadline.
Recently, I’ve been taking calls from landowners looking to capitalise on the new legislation. Typically, these are people whose proposals to sell land have been rejected under the old planning regime, but who want to see it made available to individual self and custom builders.
My advice to them has been to contact their local authority and enquire about offering up their land. Some councils will struggle to find suitable plots from their resources, so they may well be far more receptive to sites offered in this way.
There won't be a better opportunity to generate plots and promote self and custom building, so spread the word!
Image: Colin Poole