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23/01/2020

Number of people on self-build registers grows despite bids to ‘thwart sign-up’

Words: Laura Edgar
Self Build / iStock: 984039394

More than 50,000 people have signed up to Right to Build registers across England, but the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) is concerned that a ‘growing minority” of local authorities are using ‘dirty tricks’ to prevent sign-up.

Research by NaCSBA shows that in the past year there have been around 11,400 sign-ups to Right to Build registers, many of which were added using NaCSBA’s Right to Build portal.

This takes the total since 1 April 2016 to an estimated 55,000.

However, the association believes these numbers fall short of the real demand.

It attributes this to a lack of promotion of the registers by many local authorities and through the “increasing use of dirty tricks” by a “growing minority” of councils to make it harder for individuals to join and remain on registers.

The three areas NaCSBA considers to be unacceptable practices by local authorities to “thwart the will of Parliament” and deny those the legislation supports are:

  • Local authorities are imposing unreasonable constraints over joining registers, including charging excessive fees to join registers and denying those who live outside authority areas an opportunity to build a home there despite, the association highlighted, no parallel restriction on new-build homes delivered by developers.
  • Local authorities counting plots intended for building on by housing developers as being potentially suitable for self-building.
  • Local authorities removing the names of those who have already joined a register to justify reducing the number of plots that they must give permission. This includes restarting registers with new conditions and undertaking data protection exercises where those who do not reply are struck off.

Right to Build day was on 30 October 2019. On this day local authorities should have demonstrated that they have guaranteed sufficient plots are available to meet the demand on the registers. NaCSBA said three months later only 45 per cent of local authorities claim to have met their legal duties (including using the methods outlined above) and 18 per cent said they have not met their obligations. A response was not provided by 37 per cent.

It believes that the numbers are “too unreliable” for an accurate assessment of delivery to take place.

The association wants local authorities to do more to ensure that more plots are permitted and that they act “within the letter and the spirit of the law”.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO at NaCSBA, said: “For the first time, local authorities have had to meet a statutory duty to help self-builders access the plots that are needed. It is clear that overall they have come up short. In some cases, this is despite the hard work and best efforts of the authority, and we recognise those that have worked hard in this area. In too many cases, however, local authorities have spent scarce time and effort not on delivering plots but rather on seeking to avoid their obligations. This cannot continue, not least if we are to deliver homes in the volume and of the quality that this country needs.”

More information can be found on the NaCSBA website.

Image credit | iStock

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