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Insights // 09 May 2019

Right to Build (Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding) Explained

Partner Karen Jones, head of our leading Planning & Environmental law team, explains the Right to Build, for those looking to self-build or custom build a home in England.

What is Right to Build?

As part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, the government introduced legislation that stipulates local authorities must support those looking to self-build a home by helping to them to find a suitable plot of land on which to develop. Local authorities are expected to identify and provide sufficient serviced plots to meet the known demand.

However, there is no legal duty for the plot identified by a local authority to meet an applicant’s specific requirements or expectations. A developable plot must simply be made available.

Where Does Right to Build Apply?

At present, Right to Build only applies in England. The Welsh and Scottish governments are in discussions over future plans, while land in Northern Ireland is already in ready supply, with self and custom building commonplace.

How to Apply

Since 1 April 2016, local authorities have been required to maintain a list of people seeking to self-build. Anyone interested in doing so can register via the Right to Build Portal, established by the the National Custom and Self Build Association (NACSBA)+. It is possible to register interest in a number of local authority areas simultaneously.

Those registering will be asked if they are doing so on an individual/family or group basis and in which areas they would like to build.

To qualify, Right to Build applicants must be looking to develop their sole residence (i.e. not a holiday home or buy to let property) and be a British citizen or a national in the EEA or Switzerland.

In highly populated urban areas, plot sizes are generally likely to be smaller and more contained. And plots will typically be on sites where there are a group of serviced plots available, not offered in isolation.

Is Right to Build Popular?

In the year ending October 2017, government figures showed that 15,174 plots were granted permission, a year on year increase of nearly one third. It is expected that this figure will continue to rise.

According to NACSBA, local authorities are tackling the matter in several ways, including providing land they already own for development, buying new sites for this purpose and working with developers to ensure that a proportion of their sites are made available to self-builders.

For further information or legal advice, please contact law@blandy.co.uk or call 0118 951 6800. 

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.

Karen Jones

Karen Jones

Partner, Planning & Environmental Law

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