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Self-build wins government backing

A new government framework will be established to provide the public with expert advice on building one-off houses

Unveiled by Housing Minister Grant Shapps today (5 January), the policy will encourage clients to consider self-build as an alternative to speculative housing.

Currently in its early stages, the move is part of the government’s shake-up of the planning system which will allow neighbourhoods to approve developments through a ‘community right to build’.

Shapps said: ‘Building your own home should not be the preserve of a privileged few – I want to break down the barriers that many aspiring self-builders often come up against.’

The key areas of reform will be to encourage local authorities to make land available to self-builders, to develop better finance products for self-builders and to improve access to expert advice.

The National Self Build Association (NaSBA) is working with the government to develop the details and has called on architects to get involved at an early stage.

A NaSBA spokesperson said: ‘Architects will very much be part of [the policy] because they are a crucial part of the supply chain and will help many self-builders make the crucial decisions.’

Paul Richards of Architecture Verte, a NaSBA founding member, said design-led practices could play a key role in the expert advice framework. He explained: ‘We don’t want it to become the fodder of bigger companies, we want it to be the scale that people can identify with and work with.’

Chris Romer-Lee of Studio Octopi said: ‘On the surface this is good however the “community right to build” policy with members of a community deciding on individual developments is nonsense and runs the risk of stifling creativity in the industry.’

Nick Willson of Nick Willson Architects added: ‘If self-builders and clients appreciate the value and importance of having an architect on board from an early stage then the scheme could open up a lot of work and opportunities for small practices to demonstrate their skill.

‘However if Architects are not in the loop then a series of poor quality, poorly designed and executed houses may be produced.’

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