The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) has announced that over 33,000 people have now signed up to the Right To Build registers since April 2016, an 80% increase on the 18,000 that signed up in the first seven months.
The announcement is the result of a Freedom of Information request from all English local authorities, which have been required to host the registers since April 2016 under Right To Build legislation, and was made by made by Richard Bacon, Chair of the APPG on Self-Build, Custom and Community Housebuilding and Placemaking and RTB Task Force Ambassador (shown).
The legislation requires that local authorities permission enough serviced-plots for people on their registers within three years of signing up. These new figures mean that councils have until 31 October 2020 to consent 33,000 serviced plots, with roughly half of these by 31 October 2019.
The figures have, and will continue to be, revised, with roughly 3,000 of the original 18,000 having been removed from the registers. This can be for a variety of reasons as people’s circumstances change and they no longer have the need, desire or funding to create their own home, or they may already be doing so.
In particular, some local authorities are levying charges for registration or setting a local connection test as a way of limiting sign ups and ensuring only those serious about building are registering.
The results evidence how seriously most councils are treating their registers, which NaCSBA welcomes, but it also throws up some disparities that seem to highlight practices that are restricting sign up.
Practices such as hidden registers or exorbitant fees will be looked into by NaCSBA, which has a duty to Government to feed back findings to the relevant ministers.
NaCSBA points out that the Right To Build registers are an evidence tool for local housing supply, albeit on a short term scale, and as such are serious indicators of demand that will influence local plans.
It is currently working on a tool to help assess long-term demand for custom build and self-build homes to complement the registers and other assessment tools, such as surveys, used to assess how many people want to have input in designing or creating their own home.
As a free, consumer-focussed entry point, NaCSBA’s Right To Build Portal has been a significant driver in the sign ups. But evidence points to there being far greater demand for custom and self-build homes in the future, which NaCSBA intends to tap into with a consumer campaign in 2018 to promote the Right To Build registers and make people aware of their rights.
Bacon said: “I’m delighted to see that the number of people on the Right to Build registers has now grown from 18,000 to over 33,000. However, we know that true demand is much higher, as the evidence does not follow through that there are several hundred people on a register in one council area, while a neighbouring one only has double figures.
“Clearly, more needs to be done to promote the registers and really make them work as an evidence tool in local planning, as we know that half of the adult population wants to design and build their dream home at some point in their lives.”
The figures released by NaCSBA represent a huge win for custom and self-build, but also pose a challenge to both councils and the entire sector.
Moving forwards, councils need to be ready for the challenge of bringing on these plots, and that means making strong synergies with developers, landowners, enablers and financiers. There’s some great progress out there, from BuildStore educating brokers about custom build through BuildLoan to the Right To Build Task Force offering tailored advice for bringing on custom homes. But local authorities must be prepared to engage, too.
Equally, to capitalise on this demand, the sector needs to ensure that it’s bringing on enough plots to satisfy it, and that people build quickly and successfully. This alone will ensure the sector starts to be recognised by the public as a credible route to home ownership. In the meantime, I strongly recommend that everyone in the sector hosts a link to the Right To Build Portal and encourage more sign ups.