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Land and sites, planning permission and funding

Land and sites

Some local estate agents may hold details of sites that are for sale with / without planning permission. In addition, the Self Build Portal (Finding land) contains a “Need-A-Plot” function that highlights what sort of plot people are looking for.

The BuildStore website also holds details of plots for sale although it appears that prospective purchasers have to register with the site to see what is available.

For proposed group builds, the Homes and Community Agency can provide opportunities on larger development sites and through their land disposal programme (see above).

Planning permission and building regulations

In the vast majority of cases, planning permission will be required for self- and custom build projects.

Funding

An important aspect of achieving a successful self- or custom build scheme is ensuring that sufficient funding is available to undertake and complete the project. The government has made some funding available, by way of Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) - administered loans

The Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund Prospectus
The government has identified £150m from 2015 to provide 10,000 serviced plots by 2020. This will provide loans for custom build projects to groups of five or more (e.g. via private sector developers [particularly small and medium-sized companies], housing associations, Community Land Trusts or community groups).

Loans will be available until 2019 - 20 for up to 75% of the eligible costs of:

  • Onsite infrastructure directly related to development, e.g. access roads, footpaths, cycleways
  • Provision of onsite utilities / services to parcel boundaries
  • Land preparation including remediation
  • Demolition costs
  • Fencing and structural landscaping to secure site boundaries (not for individual plots)
  • Professional fees associated with above works

The Affordable Homes Guarantees Programme allows community self-build and community-led affordable housing projects to apply for a share of £65m to build the affordable homes they want in their area. It is administered by the HCA.

Self-build mortgages

A report produced in 2013 by York University said that 50 to 60% of self-builders financed their builds by selling their existing property and, in some cases, taking out a bank loan. However, the report identified problems in accessing mortgages for self-build initiatives, including a lack of lenders willing to offer appropriate products, the need for a significant deposit, slow decision-making and a lack of understanding of different types of associated risks. The Coalition Government spoke to lenders and in September 2013 reported that "26 lenders are now offering self-build loans and gross self-build lending is predicted to increase by almost half between 2012 and 2015 to £1.9 billion a year."

Help to Buy: equity loan scheme

In Budget 2014 the then Government said it would investigate making the Help to Buy equity loan scheme available for self / custom build.

Other sources of information

The Community Land Trust Fund was launched to support community-led affordable housing projects. Funding and advice are available to appropriate bodies at all stages of the project.

You are advised to obtain appropriate financial advice from a professional before committing yourself to a self-build or custom build project.