05 Mar 2018

The Right To Build Task Force – a year in practice supporting custom build

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Who
Mario Wolf
Title
Director
Where
Right to Build Task Force
The Right To Build Task Force – a year in practice supporting custom build

NaCSBA’s Right to Build Task Force was set up in February 2017, with the aim of helping local authorities, community groups and other organisations across the UK deliver significantly more affordable Custom and Self-build housing projects.

In the first of two features, Custom Build Strategy caught up with Director Mario Wolf[i] about its first year of operation. Click here for part two, where Wolf shares the achievements and identifies new challenge areas for the Task Force.

Based on the successful Dutch model that helped grow the sector in the Netherlands, the Right to Build Task Force was established with a three-year grant from the Nationwide Foundation, with the aim for it to be a self-financing body beyond this.

Read more about the Task Force’s founding ambitions, here.

A condition of the funding was that it would focus on growing the sector with an emphasis on scale and affordability, with knowledge sharing a key factor in delivering this.

Consequently, there are three broad drivers for the Task Force:

• Supporting a range of projects that create additional Custom and Self-build homes;
• Sharing knowledge in how Custom and Self-build homes can be delivered effectively, both across the various parts of England and nationally – including with Government, and also with the devolved administrations; and,
• Ensuring that the Task Force has a robust legacy that will enable it to continue to provide support beyond 2019.

The Task Force’s target is to help some 80 organisations by the end of 2019, including local authorities, community groups, landowners, developers and other stakeholders.

Support is tailored to an organisation’s needs at a discounted cost of £250 per day (plus VAT) for 5 days, for public sector organisations and community groups. Private sector-led projects are priced individually.

It’s well on the way to meeting this, and has had over 160 enquiries so far, across a range of projects and types of support, from large to small. Almost 20 projects or initiatives have already been supported with the potential to bring forward several thousand building plots.

The Task Force works on a project-by-project basis, and is therefore not yet able to reach a conclusion on the types of Custom and Self-build projects or policy approaches being favoured nationally. Instead, it’s able to draw on its range of experience to supply examples of good practice that might be duplicated or adapted, with a variety of approaches to making sites happen.

To do this, it has recruited a 14-strong panel of experts that are passionate and knowledgeable about the sector, who are able to assist in its advisory capacity, creating a network of regional specialists. This team of experts will continue to grow and will, with time, be refreshed.

It also has an Ambassador in the form of Richard Bacon MP and Chair of the APPG on Self-build, Custom and Community Housebuilding and Place-Making, who is supported by regional deputy ambassadors that act as advocates for the Task Force’s work nationally.

Larger projects supported so far

• Buckinghamshire Advantage – supporting its commitment to deliver at least 165 serviced plots at the 1,100 Aylesbury Woodlands site;
• North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Delivery Unit – help to assess demand and progress a range of  Custom Build and Self-build housing across the housing market area, including a target of 20% for the 1,500 home Tresham Garden Village;
• Fareham Borough Council – advising about opportunities for serviced-plots on the 6,000 home Welborne Garden Village and a Borough-wide delivery strategy.

Knowledge sharing

Key to the Task Force’s commitment to sharing its experiences are the Expos, held in partnership with Wood for Good and NaCSBA.

So far, a pattern has emerged that these are hosted in areas where the Task Force is working with organisations on the ground, with Expos held in Aylesbury, Northamptonshire and Exeter. All have exceeded local expectations with high levels of attendance.

However, these Expos are very much about sharing the national, as much as local, picture of activity under the Right to Build legislation and supporting the implementation of the demand evidenced on the registers.

Consequently there will be a series of Expos across the UK, with further Expos confirmed for London (10 May), Glasgow (20 June) and Fareham (6 September) and several more in the pipeline.

Legacy 

A core component of the Task Force’s work is securing a strong legacy beyond 2019. This will ensure that the work of the Task Force continues beyond the initial three year funding period.

“We’re developing a robust operational model to ensure we have a strong team in place to service the pipeline of work which we are generating and which enables the Task Force to become self-financing in the longer term.

“The Custom and Self-build market is developing quickly, and we must be ready to support its growth in the future.” says Wolf.

[i] Mario Wolf joined the Task Force on secondment from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in June 2017.

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