Figures show big increase in numbers signing up for self-build registers

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The number of would-be self-builders seeking plots via councils’ Right to Build registers has almost doubled over the past year, according to latest research.

The figures – obtained through a freedom of information request sent to councils by the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) – show that, since April 2016, more than 33,000 people across England have signed up to registers to secure a plot to design and build their own home.

The 33,000 total figure represents an 80 per cent increase since this time last year, when a previous NaCSBA survey showed that 18,000 people had signed up.

The association said the figures mean that local authorities across England must give planning permission for enough serviced building plots to meet the growing demand, under the duties placed on them by the Right to Build legislation.

The association welcomed the fact that the majority of councils are taking the management of their registers seriously. It said it would be monitoring “whether any councils are using unreasonable or unjustified local connection criteria as a means of reducing their obligation to consent”.

“Over 15,000 more people joining the Right to Build registers is extremely positive, given that last year’s figure of 18,000 was obtained after only seven months of most registers launching,” said NaCSBA chair Michael Holmes.

“However, despite this increase, the promotion undertaken by councils varies hugely. Those that are proactive are reaping the many benefits custom and self-build housing can bring to diversify and grow their local housing supply,” Holmes said.

According to NaCSBA, around 3,000 people shown in last year’s count were subsequently removed from registers by local authorities. The association said this was due to some having found plots, but also resulted from councils applying local connection tests or introducing fees for applicants to join or stay on their registers.

Under the legislation, councils have until the end of October 2020 to issue consents for the numbers of serviced plots indicated by the registers.