UK govt puts £30 million into self build

On Tuesday, 16 October 2012 UK Housing Minister Mark Prisk announced that the first applications for a slice of a new £30 million self build investment fund have been earmarked for approval. Speaking at a special self build workshop for local authority leaders in London, Prisk said that the first projects would benefit from over £1.1million to start work on up to 20 self build plots.Following final checks and approvals, the applications in North East Derbyshire and Peterborough will be the first to receive the funding, which provides short term finance to help unlock projects where groups of self build homes are built at the same time.

The minister, along with self build industry champion, architecture specialist and presenter of Channel 4’s Grand Designs Kevin McCloud, hosted the workshop in association with the Local Government Association, to discuss how they could support prospective self builders in their area.

A specialist team from Almere in the Netherlands also attended to share their expertise. Almere, near Amsterdam, is the largest low cost self build experiment in Europe, which has grown rapidly in recent years. A typical three bedroom house costs £150,000 to build.

Prisk said that there had been a great surge of interest in recent years for self build, and it was now important that local authorities learnt from abroad and local projects to identify opportunities for self build development in their plans, and to give people in their area the opportunity to build their own home.

‘Across the country, more people than ever want control over the design and build of their home. But these types of projects have often been held back because of limited land availability, reluctance by lenders to provide finance and red tape. So I’m delighted that the first self build projects in Derbyshire and Peterborough have been earmarked for government cash,’ said Prisk.

‘This money will be repaid as plots are sold, and I hope it will demonstrate to lenders, investors and the development industry that these types of projects are worth backing. But it’s not just about money, self builders and developers need the support of local authorities to get these projects off the ground. So I’m pleased we have the team from Almere to share their expertise, and I urge local authorities to learn from their example and help more self builders achieve their dreams,’ he added.

McCloud said it is not just a matter of cash. ‘We need to see more support from local authorities if we’re serious about making self build a mainstream housing option. And I hope we can draw inspiration from the projects like Almere, and many others across Europe, about what is achievable with strong local leadership and vision,’ he explained.

He pointed out that figures show that 53% of people in the country would like to build their own home. ‘There are amazing green designs being built. When people self build they think beyond normal boundaries. It is real localism. It offers more choice, much better value, and empowers people. It is affordable housing for a new generation,’ he said.

‘Self build also promotes civic values, higher build quality, lovely architecture and greener buildings. This in turn provides social sustainability which breeds a more resilient and sustainable society,’ he added.