Teignbridge District Council recently led a group of planners and councils from neighbouring districts on a study trip to share self-build and custom build successes.
The tour was centred around a trip to the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) and Cherwell District Council’s Graven Hill site, providing councillors and planners with first-hand experience of the processes and realities of building their own home.
The trip included a visit to Graven Hill’s new plot shop, with first hand insight into how to market sites to consumers.
The aim was to empower local authorities to help bring on a greater number of self and custom built homes in their areas. Cornwall, East Devon, South Gloucestershire, South Hams, Torbay and West Devon all had representatives in attendance.
“Seeing a local authority bring on custom build on a large scale gives other councils the confidence to take a risk on bringing on their own custom and self-build projects,” said Charles Acland, Self Build Project Manager at Teignbridge.
“They can see that it offers a managed risk with a very real reward at the end. This builds confidence and offers LAs a real route to delivery.”
The study trip builds on Teignbridge District Council’s reputation as an innovator in custom build, from its Vanguard status to its award-winning custom build policy allocating 5% of plots on housing land for custom build (for sites of over 20 plots), in what’s become known as the Teignbridge Rule.
Leader of Teignbridge District Council, Cllr Jeremy Christophers said: “As a trail-blazer in custom and self build housing, Teignbridge is helping local people to build their way onto the housing ladder, so they get more home for the money. Thanks to the NSBRC and Cherwell, this tour was thought-provoking and inspiring.
“It was a valuable knowledge-sharing opportunity, helping councils to share the challenges they face and come up with solutions to bring forward more plots for self and custom build homes, more quickly for local residents.
“This knowledge exchange paves the way for future links between Councils who have an obligation to provide plots for custom and self build.
“There are many common questions and this kind of activity shares expertise to help find solutions to provide more affordable plots to market.
“Plans include setting up an Information Exchange Forum for future collaboration between councils who have an appetite to learn.”
Building relationships is important for custom build to grow. Several councils are taking on the role of a hub, sharing their learning journeys and helping neighbouring authorities to bring on custom build.
This is to be applauded – LAs must work together to help the sector grow as easily as possible. This is especially important as they now have a duty to provide serviced plots within three years of people signing up to the Self- and Custom Build Registers.
Previously, the only way to see custom build in action was to undertake a tour to Almere or one of the other European developments, and it’s great to see home-grown trips starting to become an option here.