Much of the activity of NaCSBA of late has been to do with the Right to Build Summit at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 26 November. There was a great turn out and in the relatively small world of self build, it was great to see just about everyone who was anyone at the event. We heard from Richard Bacon MP regarding his Right to Build Bill which will make it a legal requirement for local authorities to keep a register of self builders and to allocate land to those individuals or groups who wish to build their own homes. He clearly has a lot of  support and it was good to see Emma Reynolds, shadow housing minister offering her help. Although only there for a short while, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis offered some words of wisdom, too. Credit too to Charlie Luxton who gave an impassioned presentation on just why self build is a preferable option compared to the mass market offerings anyone wanting a new home was obliged to accept over recent years.

Picture courtesy Simon Maxwell Photography

As someone who has been passionate about self building for many years, it is really quite something to see our lords and masters finally seeing the benefits of self building and paying more than just lip service to the idea.  Real progress is being made, not least by lobbying from the likes of NaCSBA and it’s NaSBA predecessors. It’s a privilege to be part of it all.

The big announcement I’m waiting to hear is that self builders will be made exempt from S106 agreements. We’ve already achieved an exemption from Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges, but S106 is still a threat to small-scale building. I appreciate that local authorities depend on S106 to support much of the development in their areas but I believe that it is not for the individual self builder to fund these. By nature, self builders put virtually everything they have into building their own homes in terms of both time and resources. It’s usually only just enough and for many it isn’t even that, forcing all sorts of economies to get over the finishing line to completion. Adding S106 commitments on top of this is likely to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – its simply too much to ask.  I think the  S106 commitment could apply for those building 2 or more homes, ideally 10 or more as with the CIL exemption. By definition there is more cash involved and a bigger ‘pot’ to raid with multiple developments, but for the individual self builder on a modest budget, let’s not tie their hands before they start.

One more event of note this week was a trip to Sheffield town hall for the launch of Sheffield as one of the first eleven Right to Build Vanguard Councils on 22 November. I spoke at this event and the turnout was remarkable, with what I would estimate as around 200 members of the public attending, all keen to find out more about self and custom building opportunities.  Sheffield Council has clearly embraced the idea and looks like it plans to deliver. If all goes to plan, suitable plots of council land will be identified and made available to those locals who have registered their interest. If the other 10 vanguards are this enthusiastic, I think we might be a winner with this policy.

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