The government knows there is a housing crisis, but recently, no housing minister has been in post long enough to do much about it. Every time a new minister arrived I’d be eagerly waiting to hear any words on custom and self build (CSB). Before each individual had got their feet under the table, though, another reshuffle had moved them on again and we’d be Googling the new incumbent because nobody knew who they were.
It’s a real problem when nothing progresses. Getting traction on the issues related to CSB has been an uphill struggle, but there have been a few useful initiatives of late that have certainly helped the cause. National Self Build Week was in May and NaCSBA also hosted an evening reception in the Houses of Parliament.
This was attended by Kit Malthouse, the new housing minister, MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Self Build and a group of NaCSBA members. Grand Designs – The Street, showcasing the opportunities available at Graven Hill, was also being aired on Channel 4 at the time.
Compared to previous housing ministers, Kit Malthouse is a breath of fresh air. His parents built their own home when he was a child and he relayed to us how their enthusiasm and sense of satisfaction permeated down to him. His parents’ wish to improve their lives had led them to self build; something that delivered a larger and more comfortable home for a growing family at a cost that would otherwise be beyond their means.
Kit saw how this process improved their lives immeasurably. He understood that this was worthwhile, that constructing your own house makes people both fulfilled and imbued with a sense of achievement. His family were not wealthy – far from it – but they had dreams and determination.
This was something that all families can aspire to, given the opportunity. This is half the battle and Kit Malthouse will undoubtedly be on our side in developing and improving Right to Build legislation at an important time for the self build registers. On Right to Build Day, 30th October 2019, we’ll see how local authorities in England have met their obligations to permission sufficient plots to meet the demand on their lists, and how they have taken this into consideration in future planning.
Victoria Prentiss MP also called a debate on custom and self build in the House of Commons in May. As MP for Banbury, the Graven Hill scheme is within her constituency, and she is very proud to have this development on her doorstep. She does understand that self building is not going to solve the housing crisis alone, but the homes produced are of a better quality, cheaper and greener than those by the big developers. To quote Kit Malthouse: “We all agree that self build can and should be a mainstream housing option in this country.”
|Mike Hardwick is a self build consultant and project management specialist. He is also NaCSBA’s general manager. He has first hand experience of the processes involved and is a regular expert at the Build It Live shows.|
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