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Foxley Tagg News - 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.

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