Government fund to support thousands more custom builders

A multi-million pound fund will help aspiring custom builders get their projects off the ground more quickly, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said today.

The minister announced that the next phase of a £150 million fund is now open to bidders. It will create up to 10,000 so-called ‘serviced plots’ – land prepared for housebuilding, and connected to utilities such as gas and water, so builders can go straight in and build.

The average self-build takes 2 years – but those using serviced plots can cut this by up to a year.

Mr Lewis said that more and more people want to build their own home and today’s move will help further unlock the “massive potential” the custom build industry has to expand.

Unlocking the country’s custom build potential

Housebuilding is an important part of the government’s long-term economic plan, with custom build a key part of that.

The custom and self build industry currently accounts for around 10,000 new homes every year – but the government is backing industry-led efforts to double that by 2020.

The £150 million fund is open to small builders and community groups as short-term loans to help get the land ready for housebuilding. The land can then be sold as individual plots to people looking to build their own home.

Mr Lewis said he was determined to ensure as many people as possible could fulfil their custom build ambitions – so he has given the green light for the first 3 bids to proceed to the next stage of assessment.

Subject to successful completion 3 small builders in St Helens, South Norfolk and West Lindsey will receive a share of £850,000 to help provide 41 plots.

Brandon Lewis said:

“Custom build should not be something that’s confined to a small and select group of people – anyone who aspires to build their own home should have the opportunity to do so.

“We want to see the industry grow significantly and this £150 million fund will help further unlock the massive potential it has to help even more people achieve their ambitions.

“This fund will help create shovel-ready serviced plots so small developers and custom-builders can get on and build, finishing their projects more quickly.”

The minister is today visiting the Urban Self Build site in Peterborough, an 11-home development that benefited from more than £700,000 government loan funding last year.

Further measures to support self build

The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill will bring forward the first part of the government’s new right to build by placing a duty on councils to maintain a register of people who are looking to buy serviced plot land to build their own homes.

Councils will also have to take account of the demand for self and custom build when exercising their planning, housing, regeneration and land disposal functions.

This private member’s bill, which finished its passage through Parliament this week, will receive royal assent later this month.

It is in addition to a range of measures the government has already taken to support small developers and self-builders, including:

  • introducing national planning policy and planning guidance which makes it clear that local planning authorities need to identify local demand for custom build and make provision for it in their local plans
  • identifying 12 government owned sites so far, which the Homes and Communities Agency is releasing for self and custom build development
  • introducing an exemption from the Community Infrastructure Levy for people who want to build their own homes
  • announcing on 28 November 2014 that considerable costs to small house builders will be reduced through changes to section 106 affordable housing policy