We’ve just completed the first of our five regional workshops for planning and housing officers. Collectively they’ll be attended by more than 200 people – mainly local council officers, but also housing association executives and representatives from community organisations keen to get their collective self build projects off the ground.

The feedback from the first event (pictured below) – hosted by Cherwell District Council – was good, with 94 per cent of attendees reporting that the workshop was likely to result in them facilitating more opportunities for self and custom build homes.

Feedback from the first of our Autumn 2015 Workshops

The workshops form one of the key elements of the R&D programme. We’ve spent the last nine months looking at how councils in Europe deliver much higher proportions of their new homes this way, and we’ve also met with more than 40 councils in the UK, to help us to understand the main hurdles they face. At each workshop we’re therefore providing guidance on the legislative and policy background, the main trends that are emerging, the techniques that seem to work the best, and we’ve unveiled an early preview of the Custom and Self Built Toolkit.

The Toolkit will formally go online in late November, and it will have masses of information and advice to help councils prepare their demand Registers, guidance on how councils and housing associations can ‘enable’ land to come forward for self and custom build, how to resource any initiatives they launch, and how to market custom and self build opportunities. It will also sets out how councils can support individuals and groups of people that want to build, it will explain the various grants and loans that are available and it will provide technical guidance on issues like VAT, CIL, and how to deliver serviced plot developments.

At each workshop we’ve also organised a case study from a custom build developer and a community group – to help councils understand that they can work with a range of partners to facilitate more opportunities.

There are four more workshops planned and there are places available at most of these. The workshops are FREE, and they are aimed at council planning and housing staff, and housing associations (not individual self builders, suppliers or private sector consultants). If you know someone in a local planning department or housing association that you think might be interested in attending, then encourage them to visit the Autumn 2015 workshops webpage – this has details of the remaining events, with a full programme of speakers and links through to the online registration page.

The future events are at:

  • Newton Abbot (covering the South West) on 21 October
  • London (covering the South East) on 27 October
  • Cambourne, near Cambridge (covering the East of England) on 29 October
  • Sheffield (covering the North) on 12 November

Once the main planning and housing officers’ workshops are completed the team will be focusing on an event for council leaders where we will be formally launching the Custom and Self Build Toolkit. This is currently scheduled for 24 November and will be staged at No.10 Downing Street.

We also have an event for lenders and senior finance people on 26 November – where we hope to explain the growth opportunity that is emerging, and we will encourage more lenders to become active in the sector. Both of these events are by invitation only.

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