The lack of housing and affordability of what is out there remains one of the highest priorities for many. As the father of two young adults who are wondering how they’ll ever be able to buy their own homes, I look at what’s being done to solve the crisis with bemusement.
Once again, we have a new housing minister – I’ve had wine gums that have lasted longer than the last one. Kit Malthouse is the tenth appointee to the post in eight years.
Dominic Raab was whisked off to the Department for Exiting the European Union before I heard him utter anything at all on the subject of housing. There was little more said by previous ministers, too.
If solving the housing crisis is so important, where’s the political continuity?
At the moment, we have probably the best opportunity we will ever have to promote custom and self build as part of the solution to the shortage in homes.
It won’t solve the crisis on its own, but while we have the engagement of individuals and associations under the Right to Build scheme, we can change the face of housebuilding.
If it fails to take off, then we are back in the old days of everyone for themselves – and I fear that’s the risk we are running with the current lack of leadership.
The Right to Build registers have two purposes. Firstly, they put an onus on the local authority (LA) to have regard to the number of people on their registers when organising matters relating to housing, land disposal and regeneration.
Secondly, councils must grant sufficient planning permissions for self build homes to meet the demand shown.
Already I am hearing stories of LAs like Camden introducing a two-part register asking for proof of financial resources and local connection before they’ll put you on the list.
If you are found to pass both (you need to be able to stump up £360,000+ for land) you get to pay £350 to be added to Part 1 of their register. If you satisfy only the financial resource test, you can pay £175 to be on Part 2.
This sounds like it has as much chance of generating a building plot as I have of winning Love Island – not impossible, but most unlikely.
I’ve also heard reports of LAs removing names from registers on the pretext of the new data protection rules, while others use self builders who have found their plots without recourse to the registers as an offset to say that they are meeting local demand.
If you were on a register under the first tranche, you’d expect at some point before 31 October 2019 to be advised of suitable land you can bid on. If that doesn’t happen, it would be fair to say the process would have been a waste of time and the scheme would fall into disrepute.
If you’ve signed up to a register, I’d check your current status.