Custom Builds – an opportunity for developers
With the Government keen to encourage a more mixed approach to housebuilding, developers should be looking to capitalise on the duty of local planning authorities to grant permissions for plots to meet the demand for self and custom builds.
The National Custom & Self Build Association reacted positively to the Autumn Budget's support of small and medium-sized house builders and it is our belief that custom-building represents an untapped opportunity for developers. Indeed, we are already starting to see councils introduce quotas for self and custom builds into their Local Plans, together with a requirement for said builds in section 106 agreements.
Since 1 April 2016, all local planning authorities are required to keep a register of individuals in their area who would like to acquire what is called a "serviced plot" for a self-build or custom-build project.
Local planning authorities are then required to grant planning permissions to meet the demand of their register within a set time-period (namely three years from the end of the "base period" (i.e. 30 October). The development will be considered "suitable" if it could include self and custom building.
Although the relevant legislation does not distinguish between self and custom building, government guidance details that local planning authorities must be satisfied that the initial owner of the home will have "primary input into its final design and layout". There is therefore opportunity for developers to provide custom builds by offering options on shell homes which the eventual occupier could customise.
Government guidance encourages authorities to use preferences expressed by individuals on the register to guide their decisions on whether or not to grant planning permissions. It is therefore advisable for developers to review whatever information the council has published concerning its register in order to maximise its chances of having planning permission granted.
Local planning authorities will face increasing pressure to grant permissions for developments offering self and custom builds as their deadline of 30 October 2019 speedily approaches. Developers can use this as an opportunity to work with local communities who identify in their Neighbourhood Plan a need for a small number of new built units to meet local need.