One Public Estate launches £25million Self and Custom Build Fund


The Right to Build Task Force welcomes todays opening of the up to £75million Brownfield Land Release Fund, which includes a dedicated £25million fund for self and custom build projects.

The fund, announced in the Autumn and co-ordinated by One Public Estate (see notes), went live today, with local authorities invited to bid for funding for projects before the 2 June application deadline. The dedicated custom and self build scheme provides capital grant funding to bring forward local authority land for housing development, giving proactive local authorities the chance to progress sites with viability issues for custom and self build projects.

Eligible land must be wholly owned by the local authority, and most authorities can apply, with the exception of some Mayoral Combined Authorities. Importantly, self and custom build schemes on greenfield land, as well as brownfield, are eligible for support.

The scheme is designed to unlock sites that may otherwise struggle to come forward, with funding available for a range of uses, including:

  • Site levelling, preparation and groundworks,
  • Provision of small-scale infrastructure,
  • Highways works or other access challenges,
  • Addressing environmental constraints,
  • Providing services to plots, and more.

The window for applying is narrow, with submissions due by 2 June, and awards announced over the summer. Applications must meet a range of criteria to be considered, including a score for innovation for custom and self build, with funds awarded over the summer.

Mary Elkington, Acting Head of the Right to Build Task Force, said: “It is fantastic that the Brownfield Land Release Fund includes this £25 million allocation for self and custom build, and we encourage as many councils as possible to apply. This will make a genuine difference to those authorities working to deliver a more diverse route to delivering high-quality housing.

“Support for replicable exemplars of this innovative route to housing helps in scaling up custom and self build. These sites will showcase the wide range of benefits that custom and self build can deliver, complementing wider housing delivery.”

WIDER NATIONAL SUPPORT

The fund is the latest announcement from government to support custom and self build in a series of measures that will contribute to the sector scaling up. This will support valuable additional homes to be created, helping councils meet their housing strategy objectives, as well as wider goals around building better and placemaking

The Government has announced a range of measures to support self and custom build (see below for links):

  • A review of the Right to Build legislation to make it more robust,
  • The first update to the National Planning Practice Guidance for Self-build and Custom Housebuilding, which adds weight to the role of custom and self build in planning terms,
  • The publication of data for local authority plot permissions to create a body of evidence of self and custom build activity,
  • A Right to Regenerate to support the compulsory purchase for unused public sector land, including for housing (at consultation stage),
  • A new Help to Build equity loan scheme to help more people access custom and self builds, (launching imminently) and
  • Funding of the Right to Build Task Force by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. This supports our work of delivering a free custom and self build workshops to every English local authority – email taskforce@righttobuild.org.uk to find out more.

This benefits of the route were also endorsed by the Chief Planner in her February newsletter to all Heads of Councils, when she said: “Self and custom builders are well placed to build high quality, well designed homes that are energy efficient, accessible, affordable and welcomed by their communities.” Chief Planner Joanna Averley, February 2021.

Supported by the MHCLG funding, the Right to Build Task Force is engaging with every English local authority to support their understanding of custom and self build, work supported by the suite of advice freely available on the Task Force’s website www.righttobuild.org.uk.

This includes the guidance notes in the Task Force’s Custom and Self-build Planning Guidance, which has recently been updated to reflect the amended PPG for custom and self build housing, also on the Task Force’s website.

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