At 2017’s Right To Build Summit, NaCSBA representatives shared updates on its work, bringing members and the sector up to date with some if its key campaigns.
Following its Freedom of Information Request from all English Local Authorities, NaCSBA recently announced that 33,000 people had signed up to the Right To Build Registers.
So with an 80% increase on the first year’s figures, what are the most pressing challenges for NaCSBA right now?
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA Finance Committee member
A former mortgage strategist at Nationwide Building Society, Baddeley-Chappell is working with NaCSBA to develop a new approach to custom and self-build housing that will boost affordability through the Right To Build.
On a meta level, the simplest way to address the housing crisis is to build more homes, he told the Right To Build Summit. And we need a variety of approaches to do this. He backed this sentiment up with a quote from Secretary of State Sajid Javid, “…we don’t have to choose between building more and building better – we can do both”.
Baddeley-Chappell sees the Right To Build as an engine of change, especially in light of recent Government White Paper support and the budget’s emphasis on small sites and small- and medium-enterprise companies.
He stressed that NaCSBA is fully committed to scaling up custom build and making it available to more people, referencing its manifesto, in which three out of the 10 points refer to affordability.
Describing a ‘virtuous cycle’ of research and implementation, he explained how NaCSBA intends to analyse the custom and enabled self-build market, reviewing key constraints, risks and growth limiters.
The driving force behind this vision is to make custom and self-build an option for all those seeking a home of their own.
This overview would be followed by gap-analysis that should identify both challenges and growth opportunities.
This then would inform a range of refined processes that should support bringing more affordable custom and self-build homes to market.
This ‘virtuous circle’ would then continue to inform and refine the sector, driving affordability and supply so that it’s bringing on the homes we need.
Baddeley-Chappell’s ‘virtuous circle’ puts forward a fresh approach to housing supply that driven by ethics rather than bottom lines, offering greater choice than that currently available in a market dominated by a just a handful of housing companies.
It intends to tap into the belief, recognised by Government, that the volume house builders do not work in the interests of the people.
The cycle that Baddely-Chappell describes offers a benevolent approach that will support innovation and put the public’s needs for affordability at the heart of what it’s setting out to achieve.
Mario Wolf, Director, Right To Build Task Force
The Right To Build Task Force was set up in February 2017 with funding for three years from the Nationwide Foundation, after which point it is expected to be self-financing.
With a focus on scale and affordability, its remit is to support the creation of more custom and self-build homes. It does this by advising a range of stakeholders and, most specifically, local authorities, about how they can maximise the opportunities around the Right To Build locally.
Its work supports the Government’s objectives of delivering over 20,000 custom and self-build homes per year by 2020, and so far it’s had over 100 enquiries.
At the summit Wolf explained that in addition to supporting local authorities, the Right To Build Task Force has a responsibility to share its work as a way of extending the message.
To do this it is running a series of expos over 12 months, ideally centred around areas where it’s already delivered support that’s resulted in new custom build homes feeding into the housing pipeline.
The first two expos did just this, both in Aylesbury where 165 plots are being brought forward as part of Aylesbury Woodlands, and also in Wellingborough where custom homes for local people are now part of the proposal for the Tresham Garden Village. The expos will continue in 2018 across the UK – keep an eye out for one near you.
The Task Force’s educational role also extends beyond England and the Right To Build, as it also has a duty to support the sector in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Discussing the work so far, Wolf recognised a series of challenges that will limit progress, including land supply and planning and legislative issues. However, he underlined that lack of knowledge about the Right To Build was the most serious challenge, on all levels.
“Local authority knowledge of the sector is weak, and we need to unpack that to create a willingness to support custom build,” he said.
Consequently, he called for the industry to do its bit by notifying the Task Force of authorities that are open to the route, as well as notifying it of new projects. NaCSBA members can do this by emailing NaCSBA.
He finished by saying: “NaCSBA’s real challenge is that it needs to engage consumers, as currently most people don’t know that the registers and custom build even exists, nor the opportunities it presents.”
You can find out more about the Right To Build Task Force and how to get support at the Right To Build Toolkit.
Lin Cousins, Director, Three Dragons
Housing and planning consultancy Three Dragons is working with NaCSBA to develop an assessment tool to evidence long-term demand for custom and self-build.
This will be a vital tool that will support the current evidence supplied by the Right To Build registers, which offer a relatively short-term picture of demand.
However, with 33,000 people now signed up to them, the desire for people to create their own homes is considerable, and this must be factored in to long-term plans.
“We need to estimate the size of the market in different areas, to ensure that the market is ready to satisfy the demand,” said Cousins.
“With the tool we want to support local authorities as they work on local plans and housing strategies, to ensure they go beyond the real-time picture created by the Right To Build registers.”
In addition to feeding into long-term local authority planning, the tool will provide confidence for developers and landowners considering custom and self-build locally, but who are unsure of the appetite for the product.
“Better informed will mean there’s a common evidence base that all partners can work to,” said Cousins. “This is critical to the question of local plans that have to meet the demands. For example, by answering questions like, where can I find a plot for my self-build or the land to bring on 10 custom build homes.”
The tool is in three parts, with the first two elements focusing on reporting the national and local context, including Strategic Housing Market Assessments.
The third element will focus on the model itself, supplying data on a set area over a five-year basis.
“There will be refinements on the different types of custom and self-build plots, for example sizes, that will reflect income profiles locally,” said Cousins.
“We’re going to be looking at affordability in terms of tenure and plots types, for example, to supply plots for younger people with lower incomes or group projects.”
Download the Right To Build Summit presentations here: