The review by Richard Bacon, a Conservative backbench MP, was undertaken at the request of Prime Minister Boris Johnson “to develop a plan for a major-scaling up of self-commissioned homes – across all tenures – to boost capacity and overall housing supply”. Mr Bacon, a longstanding champion of self-build and custom-build housing, was the architect of the Self-Build and Custom Act 2015, which began as his private member’s bill.
The report recommends “muscular State action” (p.19) by establishing a Custom & Self-Build Delivery Unit (p.9 and p. 12 – 15) within Homes England to make permissioned and serviced plots of land available everywhere to allow consumers to make real choices.
Mr Bacon said: “Our country has a growing population, an aging housing stock and a younger generation who have been priced out of home ownership – and for whom even renting a home costs far too high a proportion of their income. We need to build more new homes.
“There is of course a proper concern that we should protect our beautiful countryside – but opposition to new housing is chiefly a cri de coeur against the second-rate, the environmentally damaging and the bland. Instead of new housing that most people want, we have a soulless monoculture. One witness in my Review commented that ‘the planning system rewards mediocrity’ – and people are entirely right to object to mediocrity. Yet the consequences are that for decades we have not built enough houses – and this is tearing deep fissures into the fabric of our society.
“There is a solution. It involves creating the conditions in which customers are treated as if they matter the most, rather than – for the most part - scarcely mattering at all. And this is what happens when people themselves commission the houses they would like to see.”
The Review makes six recommendations as follows:
Recommendation 1: Greater role for Homes England
The Government should create a new Custom and Self-Build Housing Delivery Unit within Homes England to enable the creation of serviced building plots on small and large sites and support the delivery of custom and self-build housing at scale across the country.
Recommendation 2: Raise Awareness of the Right to Build
The Government, working through Homes England in partnership with the custom and self-build industry, should create a custom and self-build housing Show Park and should strengthen existing legislation to mandate the wider publicity of Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Registers and the sharing of key data between willing landowners and people on registers.
Recommendation 3: Support Community-Led Housing, Diversity of Supply and Levelling Up
The Government should reignite the successful Community Housing Fund; create accessible opportunities for communities to help themselves by introducing a Self-Help Housing Programme; and introduce a Plot to Rent Scheme.
Recommendation 4: Promote Greener homes and more use of advanced manufacturing
The Government should recognise and support the pathfinding role of the custom and self-build housing sector in advanced manufacturing and in greener homes to accelerate the delivery of its wider Modern Methods of Construction and Net Zero Housing ambitions.
Recommendation 5: Support Custom and Self-build housebuilding through the Planning Reforms
The Government should ensure that the planning reforms in its White Paper Planning for the future maximise the opportunities for access to permissioned land for CSB across all tenures, including making focussed changes to the Right to Build legislation to ensure that it achieves its objectives.
Recommendation 6: Iron out any tax creases
The Government should investigate the perceived disadvantages in the tax system between the CSB delivery model and other forms of housing, identifying specific actions where necessary to neutralise them.
NSBRC Managing Director, Harvey Fremlin is acknowledged for his assistance in the review, including the commissioning of our largest ever consumer survey which directly fed into the review, and the NSBRC is mentioned several times as an exemplar location for individuals wanting to know more about self building a home.