England’s first ever Right to Build Day takes place on 30 October 2019. This is the single most important day in the history of those building or commissioning their own home.

On this day all Councils (and National Parks) in England must demonstrate that they have ensured that the number of plots that have been given planning permission matches the demand based in the Register that they are required to maintain.

This legislation is important as the UK has the lowest known rates of self and custom build in the world, whilst at the same time having a shortage of new homes and an unwillingness by the majority of homeowners to consider a newly built home. Change is needed.

The Right to Build legislation

This requirement on Councils is set out in legislation passed by parliament that is generally referred to as the “Right to Build”. These laws and regulations were passed in 2015 and 2016 but it is only now that the needs under the law must be met.

The law is made up of two parts. The first part requires every local authority to maintain a Register of all those who wish to build or commission their own home. This means that unlike the case with most new houses in this country, it is the homeowner and not the builder who decides on the design and the construction of the home.

Anyone joining the Register will do so in a particular period that ends on the 30 October each year. The second part of the legislation states that, following the end of that period the local authority has a further three years to ensure that sufficient suitable plots are permissioned to match the numbers who have joined the Register in the previous year.

The legislation in practice

The timing of the legislation meant that the first period ran from 1 April 2016 to 30 October 2016. It follows therefore that plots to match the numbers on the register must be delivered by 30 October 2019 – the first Right to Build Day.

Councils did not need to wait until this date to bring forward plots but they must have done so by this point. Given that there were 18,000 individuals on Registers as at 30 October 2016, 18,000 plots practice must have been permissioned between 1 April 2016 and 30 October 2019.

This is just the start of the process. The 15,000 who joined the register in the year to 30 October 2017 must have their needs met by 30 October 2020 and so on. This creates an ongoing requirement on Councils that should ensure a continual supply of suitable plots and support much needed diversification in our housing supply.

More detail about the legal basis of the Right to Build can be found on the Right to Build Briefing Note, on the Right to Build Toolkit, the home of the Right to Build Task Force.

Here is a working example as to how the legislation works in practice.

The rolling nature of provision under the Right to Build legislation

The first 250 who joined the register between 1 April 2016 and 30 October 2016 can be matched with permissions granted between 1 April 2016 and 30 October 2019, starting with the earliest permissions and working forwards. An unmatched permissions in this period can be used to match registers in the next year and so on.

If, however, insufficient permissions available to match the registers then the local authority has failed to meet the requirements of the legislation.

Celebrating Right to Build Day

The National Custom and Self Build Association is celebrating Right to Build Day with the opening of the Build It Education House at Graven Hill. This house, built on the largest active custom and self build site in Europe will be used as a learning opportunity, as well as the hub for future sales for Graven Hill.

Whilst the day is a celebration of the legislation it is clear from the work that NaCSBA undertakes that there is much still to do. Information gathered on the year to 30 October 2018 identified a postcode lottery, with a minority of Councils who appear to be neither complying with the letter or the spirit of the legislation.

Some local authorities have been slow to respond to the legislation, whilst others have put in place unwelcome barriers to the process through unnecessary charges and restrictions and through the unwarranted removal of individuals from their Registers.

Time for these local authorities is running out, and NaCSBA is urging Government in line with commitments in its our words to “consider taking further action including possible changes to legislation”.

The full picture will become clear when information from local authorities on their registers and their delivery up until 30 October 2019 has been gathered and published by NaCSBA in early 2020.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell CEO of NaCSBA says “On 30 October 2019 we celebrate the first Right to Build Day, and the wonderful new custom and self build homes that the legislation has helped to deliver. Change is urgently needed to deliver more and better homes. This is a long struggle and we a starting a long way behind everywhere else. This day does not mark the end or even the beginning of the end but it is does, we hope, mark the end of the beginning.”

“NaCSBA believes that custom and self build leads to more and better homes, that more people aspire to live in and that communities are happier to see built. It aims to make Custom and Self Build a mainstream choice for everyone seeking a home of their own.”

The ‘Right to Build’ places two important legal obligations on Local Authorities in England:

1. Under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 all Local Authorities in England must keep a register of people and groups of people who are seeking to purchase serviced plots of land in the authority’s area and to have regard to that register when carrying out their functions. Registers were required from 1 April 2016.

2. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 requires all Local Authorities in England to grant sufficient ‘development permissions’ to meet the demand for Custom and Self Build housing in their area, as established by their register, on a rolling basis. Permissions equivalent to the number of people registering from 1 April 2016 to 30 October 2016 should be granted by 30 October 2019. Permissions equivalent to the number of people registering from 30 October 2016 to 30 October 2017 should be granted by 30 October 2020 and so on. This includes 18,000 permissions by 30 October 2019.

In addition to the primary legislation, there is accompanying secondary regulations and additional National Planning Policy Guidance.

Right to Build Portal

Find out more about the Right to Build, or find your local registers at the Right to Build Portal.