Boris Johnson’s new scheme to help Londoners build their own homes
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The scheme will act as a “matchmaker”, connecting potential homebuilders to relevant councils with brownfield sites and developers and companies who could work with them
The Mayor of London launched a new scheme on Wednesday that will mean Londoners can register their interest in building their own homes.
As property building continues to prove problematic in the capital and the housing crisis grows, the scheme aims to give people the means to put development into their own hands.
“Through initiatives such as Housing Zones, the London Housing Bank and the Affordable Homes Programme, City Hall has a range of measures in place to increase housing supply in the capital but we’re always looking for new and innovative ideas,” commented Richard Blakeway, the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Land.
“By setting up the Build Your Own London Home register, we will be able to gauge how many Londoners are interested in building their own homes. I urge any individuals and community groups willing to take on the challenge to sign up.”
Tony Armstrong, CEO of Locality, a national network of community-led organisations which includes dozens of institutions in north London, added that the decision to create the scheme was welcome in the field of community housing.
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“The housing crisis in London is deeply concerning. This situation is linked to demand outstripping supply against the backdrop of a lack of available land for community-led initiatives which could provide homes for those most in need,” he said.
“As such, Locality welcomes attempts to release brownfield sites via this register which could enable community groups to proceed with self build or other types of community led housing projects.
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“Great community led organisations are increasingly developing small housing projects that meet a specific need and help local people; many of whom are being outpriced and forced out of neighbourhoods and communities they feel part of. Here at Locality we have seen evidence of community led housing working in some very inspiring projects led by communities, who together are making a real difference.”
Nevertheless, while this news may have many people reaching for their DIY tools, on the Build Your Own Home website it makes clear that the scheme in its current state will not be providing any land to prospective house builders and is purely speculative.
“Once the Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 becomes law, all local councils must have their own Right to Build register. These registers will assess demand for this type of housing locally,” it says.
North London’s Camden and Brent Councils have yet to sign up to the scheme, but planning permission has been granted for nine new homes elsewhere in the capital and it is hoped that housing association East Thames, working with Newham Council, will begin developing a council-owned site currently used for garages.
When asked about the scheme a spokesperson from Camden Council said: “We welcome anything that could provide more affordable housing in Camden but need to look at the details.”
They added that the they have developed Camden’s Community Investment Programme, a 15-year plan to invest money in schools, homes and community facilities.
“Developing our own local solutions will make us all more self-sufficient from government and help us invest it in the things that matter most our residents. It also means we can ensure that Camden’s social mix is protected and people aren’t priced out or forced to send their kids to schools out of the borough.”
The Mayor’s register can be accessed at www.london.gov.uk/buildyourownhome.
In the meantime, these are our top ten tips for self builders living in the city.