Stephen Williams MP writes… Making self build accessible

Houses being builtI was honoured to be appointed as Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Minister in the recent reshuffle. As a former councillor and passionate advocate of localism, I am excited to take up my post in the Department for Communities and Local Government and hope to continue the good work of my predecessors Don Foster and Andrew Stunell.

At last month’s autumn conference in Glasgow, Don announced measures to open up the self build market to those on lower incomes.


The scheme, supported by Channel 4’s Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, will:

  • Provide new grant funding for community self-builders;
  • Work with councils to increase land for self-build plots;
  • Remove unfair taxes from self-builders;
  • Free up more redundant public sector land for self-builders and
  • Raise awareness about self-build.

I share Don’s desire to democratise the option to self-build. My constituency of Bristol West contains Ashley Vale in St Werburgh’s; an excellent example of a thriving self-build community. Self-build should be an option for all and I hope that the £65m we’re making available for community-led groups will make it easier for ordinary people to get involved.

In 2012-13 almost 11,000 new homes were self-built, in an industry worth up to £4 billion for the UK economy. The self-build industry has the capacity to double in size over the next 10 years and I am glad to have the support of self-build champion Kevin McCloud who has said of the scheme:

It’s great that many of these additional measures are focused on helping people on modest incomes deliver affordable self-build homes.

I particularly like the fact community self-build groups will be able to get funding, and that more small plots of public owned land will be made available to self-builders.

The news self-builders will be exempted from the Community Infrastructure Levy and other similar charges will also be well received. Collectively, the measures should result in thousands of additional self-build homes being built over the coming years.

I hope that Liberal Democrats share my hopes for the scheme and will support their communities to get involved.

* Stephen Williams was the Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West 2005-2015 and was Minister for Communities in the Coalition Government.

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  • This is worth a read

    I can’t see how abolishing taxes that once didn’t exist will change anything, those taxes didn’t destroy self build, so why would getting rid of them create it.

  • Thanks for this Stephen – will look into it. Going a step further, would be interested in anyone’s views on the “tiny homes” approach growing in the US- see eg and . It’s an appealing idea for young people in our rural community, with rents and prices far out of reach, when they have the skills/willing to skill share, Issue would be around capacity building for the legal / land acquisition/planning and getting the wider community on board rather than the housebuilding itself. Any experience /info welcomed.

  • I believe that self builders together account for more new homes each year than any of the big corporates despite the UK’s poor record in the sector (see fake’s excellent link). The system really doesn’t help them so anything Stephen Williams and colleagues can do to improve matters will be welcome. Specifically, AFAIK none of the major banks provides mortgages to self builders and I think the useless bureaucracy that is the CDM regulations is to apply from next year.

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