Serviced plots legislation comes into effect on the 31 October 2016 when The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Regulations 2016 commence in full. From this date local authorities have a responsibility to grant planning permission for sufficient serviced plots to meet the demand as demonstrated by the registers, within three years of the demand having been entered on the register.
Since 1 April 2016 LAs have had a responsibility to maintain a register of members of the public who are interested in obtaining their own plot of land to build a home on. LAs have the right to give priority to people who live or work locally, or have a viable local connection.
While most local authorities are hosting their registers, a few have come under criticism for hiding their registers on their websites or not hosting one at all. NaCSBA is campaigning for LAs that have failed to put registers in place to take urgent action.
On the 18 October, the House of Lords agreed a motion that will give LAs the right to charge a fee to sign up to the registers, as well as an annual fee to remain on the register, although these must be deemed ‘reasonable’.
The regulations also allow local authorities to charge a fee to those to be entered on their register and, where the number of entrants on the register count towards the number of plots for which an authority must grant planning permission, for them to charge an annual fee in subsequent years while the person remains on the register. It is important that authorities are able to charge fees only on a cost recovery basis. This will ensure that any fees charged are reasonable and reflect the costs incurred by the authorities.” Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, DCLG
Previous to this sitting, Housing Minister Gavin Barwell commented: “We are not expecting the fees to be significant. The work load required for local authorities to maintain a register of this kind is not huge, but given the financial pressures that local councils are under, it is reasonable that they should be able to recover the costs involved in this work, rather than for those costs to sit with the general taxpayer.”
The legislation is available to Wales, should the Welsh Assembly vote to adopt it in the future.
This paves the way for a whole new level of custom and self builders to have a viable route to land, which has been identified as one of the major barriers to the growth of the sector. To me, charging for the registers is putting a stop mechanism in place at the exact point when we’re progressing towards growth, especially as detailed questioning as part of the sign up process will establish people ready to commence with a build. What are your thoughts?