Updated Planning Practice Guidance for self-build and custom housebuilding will support greater housing delivery

Following a series of announcements (see notes) to support custom and self build, NaCSBA warmly welcomes the recently published update to the Planning Practice Guidance on Self-build and Custom Housebuilding.

Published on the 8 February by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the new guidance provides a much-needed update to the guidance to the original April 2016 legislation (previously updated in July 2017). The new version strengthens the guidance as a tool for shaping provision and implementation of the Right to Build, the common term used to describe the duties set out by the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Good things come in threes, and the updated guidance comes as part of a welcome trio of announcements for the sector:

  • Newsletter to Chief Planning Officers*
  • Updated NPPG**
  • Publication of Register numbers and performance***

In her February newsletter, Chief Planner Joanna Averley stressed Government’s commitment to self and custom build housing, and the “crucial role” the sector has in delivering greater housing diversity.

“Self and custom builders are well placed to build high quality, well designed homes that are energy efficient, accessible, affordable and welcomed by their communities.”

The updated National Planning Practice Guidance for Self-build and Custom Housebuilding will bring forwards a number of distinct advantages. Not least, the updated guidance sets out that self and custom housebuilding can embrace a spectrum of projects, and that multi-unit and communal schemes can qualify for the Community Infrastructure Levy exemption.
It also adds weight to the registers in terms of them being a likely material consideration for planning purposes, and that these registers must be considered as evidence of demand by local authorities. It also includes several other measures that will support the delivery of custom and self-build and ensure its factors as part of wider local housing strategies.

Government is now committed to publishing data around the permissioning of plots for self and custom build to create a body of evidence drawn from local authorities. This data will support the delivery of custom and self build locally, and aid transparency.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO of the National Custom and Self Build Association said: “We warmly welcome the recent activity that builds on Government announcements at the end of last year. The letter to Chief Planning Officers contains a particularly positive statement as to the benefits of custom and self build that I would encourage everyone to read. The data helps to highlight the wide variation in numbers on registers due in no small part to the barriers put in place by many authorities. The Guidance helps to create a positive environment and temper some poor practice, and is a step in the right direction.

“Even better news is that there is more to come – with Help to Build, the upcoming grant funded Serviced Plot Fund (Brownfield Land Release Fund) and the wider review of the Right to Build legislation. Spring is on its way.”

* Link to Chief Planners Newsletters https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/959245/Chief_Planners_Newsletter_-_February_2021.pdf

** Link to Planning Practice Guidance on Self-build and Custom Housebuilding https://www.gov.uk/guidance/self-build-and-custom-housebuilding

*** Link to gov.uk Self-build and custom housebuilding data: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/959271/Self-build_and_custom_housebuilding_-_data_release_2016_to_2018-19.pdf