21 Aug 2017

Mario Wolf discusses the Right To Build Task Force, and why it’s here to help!

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Who
Mario Wolf
Title
Director
Where
Right To Build Task Force
Mario Wolf discusses the Right To Build Task Force, and why it’s here to help!

NaCSBA’s Right To Build Task Force recently appointed Mario Wolf to the post of director, seconded for 18 months from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Custom Build Strategy discussed his new role to find out what the Task Force can do for you.

With an estimated 18,000 people signed up to the Right To Build Registers (as of Oct 2016), the Task Force will be working with a broad range of stakeholders to help unlock this potential and enable more people to build their own homes.

In turn it will also help councils deliver on the obligations placed on them by the Right To Build Legislation.

The RTB Task Force is aiming to help at least 80 organisations bring forward custom and self build housing, with a focus on large-scale and affordable projects.

Its aim is to assist a range of organisations, predominantly local authorities but also housing associations, community groups, land owners and other private organisations.

In addition, it is targeting councils and government bodies in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to help them bring forward initiatives, even though the Right To Build legislation applies only in England.

Find out here how to get support from the Task Force, plus what its criteria are.

Right To Build Experts

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

“In addition, Richard Bacon MP has been appointed as the RTB Task Force Ambassador to promote the RTB Task Force’s work.

MP Richard Bacon

MP Richard Bacon

“He will be supported by Cllr Barry Wood from Cherwell DC, Cllr Jeremy Christophers of Teignbridge and ex-NaCSBA chair Ted Stephens as deputy ambassadors.

“Together, they’ll be championing the cause politically and encouraging local council leaders to support projects.”

Find out more about Cherwell’s and Teignbridge’s custom build activities.

The Dutch model

The RTB Task Force has been loosely modelled on the successful Dutch Model, that helped accelerate self-build in The Netherlands.

In particular, it has strong links with the Dutch government who has been helping to translate its experience to the UK market.

“The Task Force in Holland succeeded in doubling the size of the sector over three years. It’s all about engaging with the right organisations and the right schemes.

“However, the Dutch model was particularly focussed on supporting local authorities,” says Wolf. “In constrast, we’re looking to create a much broader remit for our Task Force to enable as many organisations to take action as possible and help boost this important part of our housing industry”.

“In addition to the UK experts, the RTB Task Force is also aiming to appoint some international experts, so that they can share their national experience.”

Work so far

“We’ve had a lot of interest in our work in a short period of time and we have engaged with a range of organisations so far. Two sizable projects stand out,” says Wolf.

“For Buckinghamshire Advantage we undertook an initial piece of work to inform their planning application for a mix of 1,100 homes at Aylesbury Woodlands, to include a sizeable custom and self build element.

“We’ve also just started working with the East Northamptonshire Council to advise on custom and self build opportunities in six Sustainable Urban Extension areas as well as the proposed Tresham Garden Village.”

Two way feedback

Part of the remit for the RTB Task Force is its accountability. Consequently, Wolf will be feeding back progress to DCLG and senior Government officials, sharing his team’s experiences, and challenges and opportunities for delivery.

“One huge positive in our work is that the conversations seem to be getting easier. These days we’re asked ‘how can we do it’ rather than ‘why should we do it’ or even ‘what is it’.

“Because we have opened our door to give support  we’re dealing with stakeholders already open to the concept.

“But sharing of experience is a critical part of our work so we’ll be holding a series of ‘Expo events’ across the country.

“The first Right To Build Task Force Expo is on 18 September in Buckinghamshire, in association with our parent organisation NaCSBA and sponsors Wood for Good. Interested parties can sign up for tickets with Eventbrite.”

Governance

Stakeholders can rest assured that the Right To Build Task Force comes with a quality pedigree. It is overseen by a board of organisations, such as the NaCSBA, Homes and Communities Agency, Royal Town Planning Institute, Building and Social Housing Foundation, National Housing Federation, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Local Government Association, chaired by IGLOO Regeneration’s Jon Sawyer.

Also observing on the board are DCLG representatives and the Nationwide Foundation.

While currently funded by the Nationwide Foundation, the Task Force is expected to be self-financing after an initial three-year funded window.

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