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Shapps launches £30m self-build fund

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Housing minister Grant Shapps has floated a £30 million fund to provide short-term finance for self-build projects

The programme will unlock projects where groups of self-build homes are built at the same time as part of a government pledge to double the size of the industry.

In a linked move, television presenter and design guru Kevin McCloud has also been appointed champion of the National Self Build Association.

Currently one in ten new UK homes are self-built, but the Department for Communities and Local Government claims 100,000 people are looking to construct their own homes and expects self-build mortgage availability to increase 141 per cent.

Shapps said: ‘The self-build industry is riding the crest of a wave, with more people than ever wanting control over the design and build of their home.

‘But despite this self-build surge, we continue to lag behind the rest of the world. I am determined to change this so anyone who wants to embark on a self-build project has the opportunity to do so.’

The announcement was made during a UK trade delegation to the Netherlands where the housing minister and McCloud were shown examples from the Dutch self-build industry.

As part of the trip the duo visited Europe’s largest low-cost self-build experiment in Almere near Amsterdam.

McCloud said: ‘In the past we have built some of the poorest performing, most expensive and smallest homes in Europe. That’s not something to celebrate.

‘But there is another way. What if we became a nation of self-builders like the Dutch? What if each household in the UK had the option to build their own place? What if large-scale developers provided finished-slab, fully-serviced sites for homebuilders?

‘We’d see more customised homes that reflect where they are, to higher space standards and to a better quality. We’d see people sharing skills and saving money. We’d see neighbours working together on community self-build schemes and local construction economies thriving. And we’d certainly see more energy efficient buildings and a wider embracing of green technologies.

‘Self-build is seen as a long, difficult and self- sacrificing process. But with the right planning, help and support it can be enjoyable and - on collective schemes - empowering.’

In his new role McCloud will raise public awareness about self-build and help the industry promote itself.

National Self Build Association chair Ted Stevens added: ‘[McCloud] is a fantastic ambassador for the self build sector, and we’re delighted he has agreed to become our champion. He has a real enthusiasm to see new types of self build happen in the UK - and I know he shares our interest in the innovative developments that are taking place in Continental Europe - particularly in the Netherlands and Germany. There are many lessons to be learnt from here that could have a huge impact if we applied some of them in the UK.

‘We’re also delighted that he’s agreed to record a short welcome video for the new self build portal that the industry has just launched. This should be up and running in the next few days. The portal explains - in a very independent way - all the different ways of undertaking a self build project and helps would-be self builders figure out the best way of tackling a project for the money they have available.’

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