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UK government opens consultation on Right to Build scheme

The UK government has opened a consultation seeking the views of local planning authorities, the custom build sector and prospective custom builders on its proposed Right to Build scheme, under which councils will be required to release serviced plots to aspiring custom builders registering an interest in their area.

According to the consultation document (39-page / 826 KB PDF) the government proposes to allow councils to require that custom builders demonstrate a connection to the local area in order to register an interest in acquiring a serviced plot. This connection could be through residency in the area for a specified period of time to be decided by the council, or through the residency of close family members, the document said.

Under the proposals, prospective builders would need to demonstrate access to sufficient funds "to acquire a plot of land and commission or build a home on it", would need to be European Economic Area citizens and be more than 18 years old. Funding would only be available for plots to be used as an applicant's main residential home.

Once registers of prospective custom builders have been set up by local authorities, the government would expect them to be taken into account in the preparation of local plans and in authorities' five year housing land supply figures. Registered builders would be able to indicate their preferences for the location and price of a plot under the proposals, and councils would have to offer "a minimum of three plots" within two and a half years of registration in order to meet the requirements under the Right.

In areas with high demand or constrained supply, the document envisages that councils might work together across boundaries, although it proposes that "the Right remains with the authority where the prospective custom builder has a local connection".

The document said that the government intends to enact the first element of the Right to Build, “the establishment of a register of prospective custom builders who are seeking a suitable service plot of land”, through a private members’ bill brought by Richard Bacon. Further legislation would then be proposed for the next Parliament in order to fully introduce the scheme.

The eleven 'Right to Build vanguard' councils chosen to participate in a pilot of the scheme were announced on 30 September. The participating local authorities are Cherwell District Council (DC); Exmoor and Dartmoor National Park Authorities; Oldham City Council (CC); Pendle Borough Council; Sheffield CC; Shropshire Council; South Cambridgeshire DC; South Norfolk Council; Stoke on Trent CC; Teignbridge DC; and West Lindsey DC. The Greater London Authority will also test a register for the whole of London.

The consultation is open until 18 December.

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