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Goalposts need shifting to help self-builders, says MP as Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud visits parliament

PUBLISHED: 06:30 25 March 2014

Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs.

Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs.

A radical moving of the goalposts is needed to get people involved in building their own homes, Norfolk MP Richard Bacon has said.

The South Norfolk Conservative, (pictured), who is holding an event with the presenter of the Channel 4 show Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud, today, said a system where big housebuilders were hoarding land and not building needed to change.

In last week’s budget, chancellor George Osborne unveiled £150m to promote self-building and help provide up to 10,000 ready-to-go plots, a move welcomed by the MP.

He said: “It is particularly relevant in rural areas, because there is more land that might be available there.

“You could be misled from watching some of the more dramatic episodes of Grand Designs that building your own house is a niche of the rich or the lunatic.

“This could not be more wrong. The UK is an outlier in the amount of self-build that goes on. The idea is not that everybody becomes a plumber. The idea is that it should be relatively straightforward and simple for a young couple to get a piece of land and commission their own house.”

He said that more needed to be done to get local authorities around the country looking at how they can help people to build their own homes.

Changes to regulations mean that councils have an obligation to set out plans to help people who want to self build.

Mr Bacon said: “The fundamental problem with the system is that in terms of providing enough houses for our people to live in, it simply doesn’t work properly. At a time when very few houses have been built because of the recession, in the last five years very few houses have been sold. The opinion poll evidence is that people do not want to buy the product of the volume house builders. They regard it as too much of a box where the design is driven by an accountant.”

He said: “We’ve got to move the goalposts, in fact we have got to change the whole system.

“You’ve got large house builders on the stock market with loads of capital who buy up loads of land and hog it for decades, in what they call land banking and they eek it out slowly. You can’t blame them; they are acting rationally within the system they are operating in. You can actually show that for builders doing this, they can get a better rate of return for what they are doing.”

He suggested the developers could sell off serviced plots, where the “difficult bits” of preparing land for development were already in place, such as the archeological survey and sewerage systems.

Do you think more should be done to help people who want to be involved in building their own homes? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk or if you have an interesting project on the go email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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