The Right To Build Task Force visited The Netherlands recently to share England’s experiences of the Right To Build legislation.
Ambassador Richard Bacon MP and Task Force Director Mario Wolf attended the one-day conference with Dutch national and local government at the end of February.
The focus was on the practicalities and benefits of a policy-led approach for assessing demand for custom and self-build homes.
The knowledge-sharing visit enabled the Task Force to share our legislative approach to evidencing demand, as well as provided the opportunity to visit some inspirational Self- and Custom Build projects.
At the event, Bacon, who’s also the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Self-Build, Custom and Community Housebuilding and Placemaking, shared the experiences and lessons of the implementation of England’s Right to Build legislation, which he was instrumental in establishing.
Hosted by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, the conference was attended by a range of municipalities, as well as the Dutch Expertteam Eigenbouw, the instrumental team that helped grow Dutch Self-build sector so successfully.
The Task Force was invited as the Dutch consider a policy-led approach to demand, a legislative solution that would encourage municipalities to do more to support Self- and Custom Building. This would ensure would-be self-builders have access to sufficient plots on which to build their own homes.
Although Self-build housing in the Netherlands constitutes about 1 in 5 of all privately owned new homes now being built, compared to just 7% in England, there is a debate in the Netherlands about the structure and form of the anticipated legislation.
Following the presentations, delegates visited innovative and affordable housing models, including a high-density serviced-plots urban site, a custom-home regeneration project and an innovative self-refurbishment model of Custom Build.
The Task Force was particularly taken with the idea of self-refurbishment as a route to home ownership, as it could support its work with English local authorities that have existing housing stock to regenerate. In the Netherlands, schools and offices are often refurbished as homes, turning unused buildings into affordable properties.
In light of the Letwin Review into build out rates, the Task Force was also keen to learn from the Dutch experience of fulfilling sites.
To encourage and support this culture of showcasing and learning, the Task Force announced it is planning a programme of visits for local authorities and practitioners to Dutch projects in association with the Netherlands Government and municipalities.
Richard Bacon said: “The Netherlands is one of Europe’s trailblazers for Self-build and Custom housebuilding. I am delighted to have the opportunity to compare notes with the Dutch authorities, who are keen to learn about our Self-build legislation, the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act, which began life as my Private Member’s Bill.”
Hans Beekenkamp, Co-ordinator of the Expertteam Eigenbouw (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) said: “Through our collaboration and the exchange of knowledge, we have strengthened each other’s practice, which helps ensure that Self- and Custom Build housing can live up to demand. After all, it is the people that make the towns.”
Mario Wolf, Director of the RTB Task Force, said “This visit gave us valuable intelligence from the Dutch experience of enabling more Custom and Self Build housing – to understand what works and the pitfalls we should avoid.
“It will enable us to pass on first-hand experience to the organisations we are supporting and share opportunities for innovation and housing market diversification with our colleagues and Ministers in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.”
Credit: Wiebe Kiestra