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Foxley Tagg News

Self Build Representations

During the last 12 months Foxley Tagg have further developed their ongoing expertise in the Custom & Self Build arena supporting the National Custom & Self Build Association (NaCSBA) with numerous representations to Local Planning Authorities across the country pressing the case for self build. Sally has also been active presenting on behalf of the NaCSBA Task Force at a number of their Right to Build Expo’s specifically in Leeds, Cambridge and Fareham. 

Selfbuild bootcamp

Back to normal today for Sally Tagg who spent Saturday (14th October) at the NEC presenting on a variety of self build topics with a number of experts in the field.

The areas covered by Sally included, understanding the self build sector, Plot finding and the planning process and a planning how to guide regarding conversions and renovations.

Sally’s detailed presentations were accompanied by a series of informative leaflets which can be accessed below.

Barn Conversion Booklet – Web
Commercial Conversion Booklet – Web
Extensions Booklet – Web
Plotfinder booklet – Web
Self Build Booklet – Web

These will provide a taste of the bootcamp but should you wish to delve into more depth on any of these areas please contact us on 01242 222107 or by email

SelfBuild Bootcamp

On 14 October Sally Tagg will be one of the experts presenting at the “Self build boot camp” Taking place at the Gallery Hospitality Suites, NEC, Birmingham.

The Selfbuild Bootcamp is a one day networking and learning event for those who are either building their own home, renovating or extending properties.

This one day event is aimed at unravelling some of the most common questions raised in relation to self build and is targeted at

– Self-builders
– Home renovators
– Home improvers
– Eco build enthusiasts
– Anyone who would like to learn more about how to build a home from start to finish
– Anyone who would like to renovate or extend an existing building

Right to Build Expert Taskforce Launched

NaCSBA has announced the launch of the new Right to Build Expert Task Force. This Task Force will help Local Authorities, community groups and other organisations across the UK deliver large, affordable custom and self-build housing projects. The Task Force aims to help at least 80 organisations create significantly more affordable homes over the next three years. To help ensure other projects benefit, the lessons learned will be shared through regional events and case studies within the Right to Build Portal.

The Task Force was recognised by Government in its recently published White Paper “Fixing our broken housing market” and is being supported by a number of partners including the Building and Social Housing Foundation, National Housing Federation, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Royal Town Planning Institute.

MP Richard bacon said “I am confident the Task Force will deliver real change and I am delighted to become its Ambassador.”

The Task Force is funded by the Nationwide Foundation, which aims to increase the availability of decent affordable homes for people in housing need.
Chair of NaCSBA, Michael Holmes, said: “We are grateful to the Nationwide Foundation for supporting NaCSBA’s goal to ensure that people currently in housing need, who want to build their own decent and affordable home, can exercise their Right to Build”.

Right to Build Task Force Press Release

Housing White Paper

The Government’s long awaited Housing White Paper has now been published for consultation.

The White Paper is a lengthy document, running to some 104 pages in addition to there being a number of technical consultations where outcome documents have been published e.g. changes to National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) with a new consultations launch on affordable housing in addition to the consultation on the White Paper itself.

Whilst there is a lot to take in there are a few headlines which are considered to be relevant to self and custom builders. Indeed some proposals will help the sector, others may prove to be burden. I provide some commentary on my thoughts on a few of the key areas in the White Paper:
Planning for the right homes in the right places

• Make more land available for homes in the right places by maximising the contribution from brownfield and surplus public land, regenerating estates, releasing more small and medium sized sites, allowing rural communities to grow and making it easier to build new settlements.

Making smaller sites available and allowing rural communities to grow will help self and custom builders to find land suitable for development. One of the biggest barriers to the sector at present is the availability of suitable sites.

• Give communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to drive up the quality and character of new development, building on the success of neighbourhood planning.

Self and custom build schemes are in many cases bespoke and therefore the sector will continue to push the boundaries in terms of design and to raise the bar in this regard. With more and more people developing self or custom build schemes it is hoped that there will be a knock on effect with regard to other developers and sectors.

Building homes faster

• Boost local authority capacity by increasing planning fees.

This will no doubt raise the cost of a dwelling from £385, however depending on the nature of the increase this could beneficial. I do remain sceptical that a rise in fees will lead to applications being considered in a more timely fashion. Indeed I would suggest that there are more fundamental problems in many LPA’s which additional income is unlikely to fix.

• Consult on deterring unnecessary appeals by introducing a fee (refunded if your appeal is successful).

This would certainly lead to the a reduction in the number of the more spurious Appeals, however I do fear that depending on the cost it may be a bridge too far for self and custom builders who in the majority of cases are on a shoe string budget. This change and larger planning fees could put many people off.

• Secure timely connections to utilities so that this does not hold up getting homes built.

I am aware of clients where we have successfully achieved planning permission who have had battles with the utility providers so as ensure timely connections to services. Such a change can certainly help minimise costs in this regard.

• Support developers to build out more quickly by tackling unnecessary delays caused by planning conditions, facilitating the strategic licensing of protected species and exploring a new approach to how developers contribute to infrastructure.

Planning conditions are a huge burden as they are often a neglected part of the process. Whilst a small fee has been payable for some time and other recent changes bought in there are still issues relating to the number of conditions added to a scheme and delays in achieving a response. Often months are added to the process so changes are welcomed.

• Speed up build out by encouraging modern methods of construction in house-building.

As with design many self and custom builders seek to push the boundaries and embrace modern technologies. There are many modern construction methods which can cut down on the time it takes to build a dwelling. I see the sector embracing more framed dwellings and SIPS panel systems or even more prefabricated and or module builds which can be constructed in a factory and shipped to a site.

Diversifying the market

• Support custom-build homes with greater access to land and finance, giving more people more choice over the design of their home.

A specific reference to custom building is good to see as this is a growing part of the sector. Often people what the benefits of a self-build home, but may not have the time or skills to undertake such a development themselves. Custom build schemes brings together the best of both worlds and therefore support here is welcomed.


Consultation is now ongoing and as such Foxley Tagg will be responding with regard to our general planning work but also specifically to champion the cause of the self and custom build sector given our linkages with the National Custom & Self Build Association. Only time will tell how many of the proposals will come forward and whether they will be altered. As above there is further support for self and custom building, but other matters could drive up costs.

Listed Heritage Article

In issue 110 January/February of The Listed Property Owners’ Club Magazine Foxley Tagg are featured with an concerning an interesting case, won on appeal regarding permission for a new external doorway on a listed building. This articles considers the balance of the listed property’s status and a level of “domestication” which is necessary to allow the building to function for the occupiers.

The magazine is only available to members of the Listed Property Owners’ Club but membership is free. For details of this and another article concerning listed buildings click here

Winter 2016/17 Newsletter

Winter Newsletter – 19.01.2017

Right to Build Expo

On Thursday 8th December the National Custom & Self Build Association is presenting a Right to Build Expo at The Building Centre, London. A whole day of expert surgeries, industry speakers and a presentation from the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Self Build Custom and Community House building and Placemaking, Richard bacon MP.

Among the speakers are Foxley Tagg’s Managing Director, Sally Tagg MRTPI who will be present to provide her own insight into the issues of self and custom build. While a workshop with the HCA showcasing the new Home Building Fund will no doubt prove to be of great interest.

The event, specifically targeted at Local Authorities follows on from the NaCSBA promoted work to create the Right to Build Toolkit and continues the on going lobbying work of NaCSBA in this key sector of the housing industry.

Three Dragons Self Build report

Consultancy Three Dragons has reviewed the progress made by the 11 local authorities appointed as ‘vanguards’ in 2014 by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) (4-page / 1.6MB PDF) in the light of recent legislative changes designed to improve access to self-build and meet demand for this type of house building. The report said that self-build will become “yet more important” as an additional source of housing supply, and make recommendations to help plan-makers identify and plan for increasing demand.

The 2015 Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act introduced a new set of duties for local planning authorities. They must now keep and publicise a register of individuals and associations that are “seeking to acquire serviced plots of land”, and “have regard” to that register when carrying out their functions. The 2016 Housing and Planning Act went further, introducing a new duty for local authorities to grant permission for enough serviced plots to meet the demand for self-building and custom building in their area.

However, although she acknowledged that self-build was “clearly an additional method to provide much-needed housing”, housing and planning law expert Lucy Close of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, questioned how effective a role it could play in the government’s drive to provide a long-term, sustainable solution to the housing crisis.

“This is because there are a number of issues to address and find answers to, in addition to encouraging engagement by the local planning authorities,” she said.
“Where house builders are required to provide a quota of self- or custom-build plots within their schemes, there is concern how these plots will fit into the larger scheme in practical terms. For example, would there be a separate design code for self-builders and a specific build programme for their construction to fit in with the rest of the build programme?” she said.
“Also, there is a question mark over whether there will be a large appetite from the general public for self-build plots given land will be at residential values and funding self-build is currently difficult. The added complication of multiple self build plots within a development site may also deter many people” she said.

The terms self-build and custom house building are used interchangeably to refer to the building or commissioning by individuals or associations of their own custom-built homes. According to Three Dragons, self- and custom build have played only a limited role in the overall supply of new housing in the UK in recent years, contributing about 12,000 to 14,000 new homes annually or 7% of the total new-build market.

However, the consultants said that the recent legislative changes had led to this type of house building “gaining momentum”, and “losing its image as a product for older, better-off households who can afford the ‘luxury’ of designing their own home”. “Certainly, local planning authorities that, in the past, have made passing mention to self build, now have a duty to evidence demand for it and take this into account ‘when carrying out their planning, housing, land disposal and regeneration functions’,” they said in their report.

Three Dragons said that it was clear from the experience of the ‘vanguard’ councils that setting up and managing a self and custom build register could be time consuming, but this was the most important task for councils as it would become their main source of information about demand. However, authorities needed to “improve upon and go beyond” their reliance on these registers if they were to properly be able to estimate the demand for self-build in their areas, according to the report.

By incorporating self-build into local plans and policies, authorities would be able to ensure that the “right mix of plots” was “available at the right time”, Three Dragons said. They also needed to find ways of providing serviced plots, including by incorporating these into developer-led schemes, according to the report.

Planning authorities also had to consider ways of extending the market for self-build to those on lower incomes so that it could become a “genuine affordable housing option”, according to the report. This could be done through gifting land, working with registered providers and involving and training future occupants in the build process, Three Dragons said. They should also bear in mind the need to make sure independent financial advice was available to self-builders, along with a range of accessible mortgage projects, according to the report.

An introduction to land, planning and self-build.

This Saturday 15th October 2016 Sally Tagg is speaking at the Self Build Academy run by Potton Homes at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre, Swindon. This unique one-day course will explain how to successfully find land and secure planning permission for your building plot and introduce you to the self-build process.

Topics to be covered include top tips for finding a plot, site assessment, and improving your chances of a successful planning application. To book please click here.

Let’s get Britain building: the launch of the Home Builders Fund

The DCLG has released a statement and further information on the new Home Builders Fund – which includes funding to support the custom and self build sector. The inclusion of self and custom build comes as a result of NaCSBA’s work to promote the sector to the government and the DCLG’s support for NaCSBA initiatives.

The news of the fund follows a meeting at Downing Street last week between Chancellor Philip Hammond and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, and NaCSBA Chair Michael Holmes and MP Richard Bacon.

Mark Stevenson, NaCSBA’s Suppliers & Manufacturers Representative, said: “It is really pleasing to see NACSBA working collaboratively with government to secure the support necessary to grow the custom and self build sectors. The availability of finance is a key driver of growth and the launch of the new and more flexible housebuilders fund will not only provide much needed project finance but will also make it easier for members to access funds enabling more homes to be built”.

Let’s get Britain building:

Philip Hammond and Sajid Javid have announced new measures to build more houses, more quickly, in the places people want to live.
As part of the government’s action to tackle the housing deficit and ensure everyone has a secure place to live, the Communities Secretary and the Chancellor made it clear that they are determined to take action and get more homes built.

Measures see the launch of a massive £3 billion Home Building Fund. This will help to build more than 25,000 new homes this Parliament and up to 200,000 in the longer term. The fund will provide loans for small and medium enterprise builders, custom builders, offsite construction and essential infrastructure, creating thousands of new jobs in the process.
Sajid Javid said: ” We want to ensure everyone has a safe and secure place to live and that means we’ve got to build more homes. It is only by building more houses that we will alleviate the financial burden on those who are struggling to manage.”

Self Build on a shoestring

The National Custon and Self Build Association have announced latest details of their annual Self Build on a Shoestring competition.

A dozen talented designers have been Longlisted in the 2016 Self Build on a Shoestring ideas competition. The overall winner will be revealed and presented with their £5,000 prize by Charlie Luxton at the Grand Designs Live exhibition at the NEC on Thursday 20th October. The judges include some of the UK’s best known self build celebrities – Kevin McCloud, Charlie Luxton, George Clarke and Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway. RIBA self build champion Luke Tozer is also one of the judges along with Lord Gary Porter, the former leader of the Local Government Association.
The competition is organised annually by NaCSBA and this year it challenged people to come up with innovative ways of building a modest ‘Starter Home’ that could be built for £50,000 or less. The Government defines a new Starter Home as any property costing less than £250,000 (or £450,000 in London). For further information click here

Successful appeal for the conversion of an agricultural building to a dwelling.

On appeal, Foxley Tagg have just received approval, under the provisions of Schedule 2, Part 3, Class Q of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended), for the change of use of an agricultural building to a dwelling.

This was particularly satisfying as it followed an original refusal by the local Council on grounds that the building was not of a permanent and substantial construction and that the change of use would constitute ‘inappropriate’ development in the Green Belt.

Foxley Tagg submitted a detailed Appeal which demonstrated that the existing building, given its blockwork construction upon a concrete base, was indeed intended to be permanent and that the works required to create a dwelling could be undertaken without new structural elements.

The Appeal also established that the proposed conversion works would be in keeping with the rural nature of the building and that there would be benefits to the Green Belt designation given the demolition of an attached lean-to structure.

The Inspector found that, “that the location or siting of the building does not make it impractical or undesirable for the building to change its use from agricultural use to a dwelling” and that “There is no convincing evidence before me that the building is not structurally sound. In my judgement the limited proposed works required to make the building habitable do not, in themselves, mean that the building is not of permanent or substantial construction”.

In terms of the Green Belt it was concluded that, “Consequently the proposal would maintain and marginally improve openness, one of the essential characteristics of the Green Belt. I am therefore satisfied that the re-use of the building is an exception under paragraph 90 and would not constitute inappropriate development within the Green Belt”.

As such the decision is clear reiteration of updated National Planning Policy Guidance relating to such conversions.

If you have an agricultural building which may have potential for conversion, please send details e.g. location plans and photographs to and we would be pleased to conduct a free initial evaluation.

Sally Tagg attends Right to Build Launch

In what is a very busy week for Foxley Tagg, its MD attended the House of Commons for the 2016 Right to Build Summit.

The event was co-hosted by NaCSBA and Richard Bacon MP, from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Self Build, Custom and Community Housebuilding and Placemaking on Tuesday 12th April.

One of the highlights statements at the event was that 12,500 custom and self build homes were completed in 2015, a year on year growth of 6%. This shows a reversal of the post credit crunch decline and is a big step towards the Government’s target of 20,000 custom and self build homes by 2020.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We are committed to helping people build their own home and have ensured councils now have to keep a register of aspiring self and custom house builders when planning for future housing and land use.
“More than 10,000 people build their own home each year and the new registers are another step in helping to double the number of custom and self build homes each year.

“We are determined to increasing housing supply and helping more people achieve their aspiration of home ownership – whether that’s buying on the open market through schemes like Help to Buy, or by building or commissioning their own home.”

From 1st April Custom & Self Build Demand Registers, which are now required in England by law under the Self Build & Custom Homebuilding Act, were also discussed by Richard Bacon MP and NaCSBA Chairman Michael Holmes who said: “The success of the Right to Build Policy initiative and the delivery of land to meet the huge pent up demand depends on the registers. That is why NaCSBA is today launching a new website, which promotes compliant NaCSBA approved demand registers. Currently only 35% of LPAs have adopted a register and we will be working hard to get this to 100%, in addition ensuring Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland adopt the right too.”

Pittville School Enabling Development Success

Foxley Tagg are pleased to confirm that  Cheltenham Borough Council Planning Committee Members resolved to approve an enabling development of 58 dwellings so as to allow Pittville School to deliver a new Sports Centre, All Weather Pitch and Tennis courts.

Click on the image above to link to a local news article regarding the Committee meeting.

More to follow.

Winter 2015/16 Newsletter

Our Winter 2015/16 Newsletter is now available.

Please click the image above to download your copy.

Queen’s Speech

Whilst the Queen’s Speech didn’t contain a planning specific bill there a number of interesting elements outlined which will be interesting to follow and get involved in during the coming months as the detail is fleshed out and consultation undertaken.
The proposed ‘Housing Bill’ contains a number of key elements which will be of interest to self and customer builders, first time buyers, Parish and Town Council’s as well as those with previously developed land.
The Housing Bill therefore includes the following key areas:
Home ownership

• To provide the necessary statutory framework to support the delivery of Starter Homes.

• To take forward the Right to Build, requiring local planning authorities to support custom and self-builders registered in their area in identifying suitable plots of land to build or commission their own home.

Housing supply
• To introduce a statutory register for brownfield land, to help achieve the target of getting Local Development Orders in place on 90% of suitable brownfield sites by 2020.

• To simplify and speed up the neighbourhood planning system, to support communities that seek to meet local housing and other development needs through neighbourhood planning.

• To give effect to other changes to housing and planning legislation that would support housing growth.

HOMEBUILDING & RENOVATING SHOW – Sandown Park, Surrey, 27-28 June 2015

Foxley Tagg will again be hosting the ‘Planning Clinic’ at the Southern Homebuilding & Renovating Show.

Come and see us for a free 15 minute consultation on all things planning. Make sure you bring any plans, maps or documents that you may have regarding your site or project.

In addition Sally Tagg (HBR Magazine Planning Expert) will be delivering two daily seminars:


Planning Permission: How to find your way through the planning maze

An introduction to the planning process. Discover the tactics that will maximise your chances of getting consent for your homebuilding or renovating project. Learn how the system works, who makes the decisions, how to influence them, when to compromise, when to appeal and more.


Permitted Development: How to improve your home without having to apply for Planning Permission

An introduction to permitted development rights – the extensions, improvements and alterations you can make to your home without having to submit a planning application. Learn how to make the most of the recent relaxation of permitted development rules in England, plus how to combine Permitted Development and Planning Permission to maximise development potential.

Greenbelt Success

Foxley Tagg are pleased to have secured outline planning permission for the redevelopment of a former agricultural nursery to a mixed use scheme which includes 2 dwellings and business premises.

The site, whilst including an array of glass houses, is located in the Greenbelt and outside of the local settlement boundary. However despite these obstacles the application demonstrated that the site was indeed sustainable and suitable for development.

The main issue at the heart of the planning case was the impact on the Greenbelt. Foxley Tagg’s submission demonstrated that the proposed buildings would cover less than half the footprint of the existing glass houses with the layout of the dwellings mirroring the pattern and grain of the surrounding area. Given the location and a desire to maintain the openness of the site, the scheme included local highway improvements which were designed to enhance safety on a nearby lane.

Although Council Planning Officers recommended that the application should be refused, given the Greenbelt location, there was a groundswell of local support within the Parish Council, from a local Ward Member and by a number of residents for the development. The key to the scheme for local people was that the proposal would enhance the entry to the village, provide housing for a local family and be visually sympathetic to the area.

The application was debated in depth by Members who voted to approve the scheme, subject to the imposition of conditions.

This project was testament to the policy of preparing a well-balanced scheme which responds to the setting thus benefitting from the provisions of localism.

Foxley Tagg’s representation to the Planning Law consultation

With the headlines relating to small and self-builders it is also important to note that the new policy guidance also applies to domestic extensions and annexes. Foxley Tagg were aware of a number of instances where Community Infrastructure Levy or S.106 contributions were required by Councils even where no new residential unit would be created. The imposition of such charges meant that the development of larger extensions or the creation of annexes for dependent relatives were made unviable even though they would not directly impact upon local infrastructure or services to which the contributions would be required.

Foxley Tagg submitted a detailed representation as part of the Government’s consolation on the process changes in April 2014. Our submission expressed our general support for the changes and the thresholds whilst making it clear that we considered any charges on extensions and annexes to be unjustified.

It is therefore encouraging to note that as part of press release from Eric Pickles that comments from Foxley Tagg were referred to as follows, “Foxley Tagg Planning explained how the charges were being levied on domestic extensions and annexes, which was a fee generating exercise which limits small work to people’s homes even though there was no significant effect on strategic infrastructure from the extension”. The full press release can viewed by clicking on the following link: