07 Mar 2018

NaCSBA responds to the NPPF: serviced plots can help large sites build out more quickly

NaCSBA responds to the NPPF: serviced plots can help large sites build out more quickly

The National Custom and Self-build Association has responded to the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), saying that Custom and Self-build has a key role to play in increasing the rate at which large development sites are built out.

It stated that serviced plots on both large sites and garden villages and towns would attract buyers as long as they were given elements of choice of plots and the freedom to design a home that reflected their needs.

Michael Holmes, Chair said, “NaCSBA believes that Custom and Self-build can play an important role in increasing the rate that large development sites are built out.
“If councils required such sites to include serviced plots, released in phases, with a choice of local SME builders competing to build a custom home for buyers, many more would choose a new home over existing housing stock. Low cost and shared ownership plots could also be included in the mix.”

NaCSBA welcomed the draft NPPF revisions, especially with the earlier references to Custom and Self-build included in paragraph 62, which states that local authorities must assess the level of demand in their area from those who would like to commission or build their own home.

It stated that many of the proposed revisions to the NPPF will make it easier for councils to fulfil their legal duty to deliver sufficient serviced plots for those on their registers. For example, the requirement for councils to create small sites by including a minimum 20% of sites identified for new housing in their plans to be 0.5 hectares or less.

It also maintained that the draft NPPF recognised the potential of Custom and Self-build as a route for achieving more affordable housing.

“Where councils choose to ensure priority is given to members of the local community, the Custom and Self-build exception site policy could be linked to a local connection test already recognised in the Right to Build legislation.

“NaCSBA believes that such a policy would result in 10,000 additional new rural homes a year and help to ensure the ongoing viability of many small rural settlements threatened with the loss of community amenities,” said Holmes.

Official feedback

NaCSBA will be responding to the NPPF consultation, including new proposals for an exception site policy for Custom and Self-build homes. This would support the continued incremental growth of small rural settlements where there is identified local housing need, for instance through the Right to Build registers.

“Currently, proposals from local people hoping to build their own home within or on the edge of an existing settlement that is not identified in the local plan as having an established ‘settlement boundary’ are treated in the same way as isolated new homes in the open country,” said Holmes.

“All the normal policies on development control for new housing would apply, but there would no longer be an assumption that such housing is unsustainable in rural locations on transport grounds and should therefore be refused.”

On average, owner-commissioned or -built housing delivers 39% of new housing in other developed countries, a figure which NaCSBA would love to see replicated in the UK.

“With 33,000 signed up to the Right to Build registers, there is enormous demand for such housing in this country, and the revisions to the NPPF will help to make more land available for such homes,” said Holmes.

Editor’s comment

While criticised for not going further, the draft revised NPPF is a move in the right direction. Custom Build Strategy is fully supportive of seeing more sites brought forward, and the provision of more small sites provides the perfect opportunity for this. The mainstream builders are, on the whole, not prepared to engage with the sector, so legislative support will drive the supply of land for building.

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