21 Aug 2017

How to engage with the Right To Build Task Force

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How to engage with the Right To Build Task Force

The Right To Build Task Force is an independent, Government-supported body set up to support custom and self-build, with a focus on large-scale and affordable projects.

Its primary role is to provide advice, offering a range of support for stakeholders working in the sector. These could include local authorities, landowners, developers, enablers and community groups. It expects to help at least 80 organisations working in the sector bring on custom build.

Find out about the wider remit of the Right To Build Task Force.

Task Force Director Mario Wolf explains how you can access its support, and also how you can get involved personally as an expert.

Registering for support

“The Right To Build Toolkit is currently the home of the RTB Task Force, and interested parties, both experts and stakeholders, can find out how to get involved from there.

“For any local authority or other stakeholder seeking to engage with us, we encourage them to register an interest on the website, where they can fill in a proforma,” says Wolf.

“We then assess the application to see if it meets our scale criteria – 100 custom and self-build homes for local authorities, (which can be over a range of sites), and a minimum of 30 homes for community projects.

“In addition, community projects need to evidence some form of policy support or local authority/housing authority endorsement of the concept.”

Additional considerations

“As well as scale, we also review submissions with regards to affordability of the housing to be promoted and also speed of delivery, which is a main focus for Government and industry.

“We also look for innovative features that could be replicated elsewhere, such as the use of modern methods of construction (MMC), novel policy approaches or unusual design principles.

If it meets our criteria we go back with a bespoke proposition of how we can help, agree a brief with them and then work in accordance with the milestones agreed within this.”

What support’s on offer?

The average time we expect to spend is around five days engaging with an organisation, not necessarily consecutively.

“And the advice and support on offer is really far reaching – we’re not precluding anything and there’s a wide range of help on offer. Stakeholders might opt for workshops for senior officers to chart potential strategies.

“Or it could be targeted advice, such as specific demand-focussed models, advice on promoting and maximising the Right To Build Registers and converting demand into supply, on site viability and affordable housing considerations or a package of measures.

“Research, analysis and accessing finance are all key components, but the support will be tailored to each organisation’s specific needs.”

Discounted costs

“The charging model is based on the successful ‘Expertteam Eigenbouw’ that the Dutch government created to accelerate the delivery of Custom and Self Build housing across in the Netherlands.

“Based on this, our funding model discounts the daily fee rate for expert help by half, for up to five days. After this, the organisation is free to seek further help, which is subject to our standard fee rate. This is based on access to an expert, overseen by myself as the Director.

“Currently, the rates are £500 a day, discounted by half + VAT, with the fees being reviewed in January 2018. The discounted rate is available to local authorities, housing associations and community groups.”

Getting involved as an expert

“As Director of the Task Force,” explains Wolf, “I’m leading a pool of experts. These will be individuals engaging with the organisations that we’re working with, to enable custom and self-build housing at scale and pace.

“To recruit the experts, we asked for expressions of interest and had an impressive volume of responses. However, we’re still open to hearing from new experts as we’re keen to assemble a strong pool of experienced practitioners to meet the growing demand for advice the RTB Task Force is receiving.

“What’s more, we expect to refresh the pool of experts regularly and bring new experts onto the team.

“We’re very keen to hear from people with local authority experience who’ve been engaged on large-scale development projects. We’re also keen to hear from potential experts with viability and development appraisal skill sets.”

Anyone interested in becoming an expert should get in touch by through the Task Force page on the Right To Build Toolkit website.

The Right To Build Task Force is holding a range of expos over the next year, enabling local stakeholders to find out more about its work and how it can help them. Visit the website for information about upcoming days or sign up for tickets at the first one on 18 September in Buckinghamshire, in association with parent organisation NaCSBA and sponsor Wood for Good.

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