The shortfall between the number of those registering to self or custom build between October 31 2020 and the same date in 2021 and plots given planning permission was 3,954 

Planning approval stamp

The number of plots councils have given planning permission to for self or custom build fell back 32% behind the number of individuals registering to construct their own homes between October 31 in 2020 and the same date last year, official stats have revealed. 

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities figures have shown 12,263 individuals registered to custom or self build over the year to October 31 2021. 

But just 8,309 planning permissions were granted permission in the same period. This was a difference of 3,954 (32%) between registrations and plots given planning permission. If plots are not available those on the register are unable to build their properties.   

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, chief executive of umbrella-group the National Custom & Self-Build Association, said: “You can see councils are not bringing forward enough plots with permission to meet the demand being registered.” He explained councils were tending to favour giving planning permission to larger sites and those earmarked in the local plans to meet their planning targets. 

He said reasons councils were sometimes struggling to give permission included stretched resources but also because they many times did not have land themselves to give. Planning authorities often have to acquire self-build plots indirectly, such as on the edge of another development, and this was not always easy to come by, Baddeley-Chappell highlighted. 

People registering self or custom build was up 31% from the same period the year before (when it was 9,376). The number of planning permissions between 2019/20 was 7,750, which was a 7% year-on-year increase. Meaning the shortfall between registrations and plots has widened from 2019/20 (the gap between individuals going on the register and plots given permission that year was 17%) to 2020/21.  

“It should be easier to get permission”, Baddeley-Chappell said.  He pointed out the government is currently reviewing the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, which requires councils to give permission to plots by law but does not stipulate consequences if they do not approve self-build proposals. 

He believe the Bacon Review, completed last year, which suggested ways to boost self-build, such as raising its awareness and ironing out tax issues, could mean more plots are giving permission in the current year. He also believed Right to Build, legislation launched in 2016 that is aimed at supporting self build, and Help to Build, an equity loan that can be made to people in England who want to build their own home, could help. 

“These initiatives should make it easier to custom and self build and should make local authorities more supportive of this,” he suggested. Baddeley-Chappell said the review of the self-build act would ideally bring in consequences for planning authorities that did not give permission for self-build plots to bring the “bad” councils up to be the same level as the ”good”.