Planning and building
Self-build and custom housebuilding FAQ’s
What is self-build and custom housebuilding?
Self build is when the person directly organises, design and build their new home. This covers a variety of projects ranging from the traditional DIY self-build to projects where the self-builder arranges for an architect / contractor to build their home for them and these may include modern methods of constructions where the homes are manufactured in a factory and assembled in the plot owned by the self-builder.
Many community-led projects are also defined as self-builds.
This is a more ‘hands off’ approach which include working with a specialist developer to help deliver your own home tailored to match your requirements. Custom build developers can manage everything from securing or providing a site in the first place, through to managing the construction work and even arranging the finance for you.
What is the self build and custom housebuilding register?
The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016), referred to in this document as the Act, requires local authorities and district councils to keep a register of people who are interested in self-build and custom housebuilding to occupy as a sole or main home in the Local Authority area.
What is the purpose of the register?
The main purpose of the register is to establish demand for self-build and custom housebuilding in a local authority area.
Being on the register means that:
- The information provided by applicants will be used to establish demand for self-build and custom housebuilding. The number of entries in the register indicates the level of suitable development permission the authority should grant to suitable plots of lands
- The applicants will receive information on suitable plots of lands granted permission
- It does not guarantee that suitable plots of land will be identified or made available to applicants on the register
Why is the council moving to 2-part register?
The law allows councils to implement them and it also helps manage and allocate the limited supply of land.
What is a serviced plot of land?
A serviced plot is a plot of land that either:
- Has access to a public highway and has connections for electricity, water and wastewater, or
- Considered by the council that can be provided with access to the connections within the life of a development permission granted in relation to that land. A development permission usually lasts 2 years
Access to a public highway can include sections of private or un-adopted road, this doesn’t mean that the plot should be immediately adjacent to the public highway but there should be a guaranteed right of access to the public highway.
Connections for electricity, water and wastewater means that the services must either be provided to the boundary of the plot so that connections can be made as appropriately during construction or adequate alternative arrangements made possible such as the use of a cesspit rather than mains drainage.
Further, a plot of land alongside an existing public highway that is an infill between existing dwellings would count as being serviced. There is no expectation that services must be physically connected to the plot at the time of granting planning permission.
Epping Forest District Council self-build and custom housebuilding (SBCH) register
The 2-part register was adopted by the district council in July 2020 and it allows the council to prioritise applicants with strong local connection to the area and also establish demand that is realistic and can be managed.
The Act also allows local authorities to adopt 2-part registration should they wish to introduce local eligibility criteria. Applicants will be entered onto either:
Part 1 of the register
To be entered in this part of the register, individuals or associations of individuals are required to meet all eligibility criteria including the local connection test. The total number of entries in Part 1 counts towards the demand for SBCH in the district. The district council is required to grant an equivalent number of development permissions for SBCH.
Part 2 of the register
Those who meet all eligibility criteria excluding the local connection test will be included in this part of the register.
The council is not required to permission serviced plots for Part 2 of the register but must take into consideration applicants on this part of the register when carrying out its planning, housing, land disposal and regeneration functions.
Those who are currently on the register will be assessed against the criterion below and asked to provide at least 2 documentary evidence listed below.
List of documents accepted as proof of evidence
The council will undertake checks with other council directorates and relevant external bodies as appropriate to verify proof.
1 – Proof of identity
Any 2 of the following:
- Full birth certificate
- A current and valid passport
- UK residence permit
- A valid UK driving licence
- Marriage certificate
- National Insurance Card
2 – Proof of residency
Have lived in the area for a continuous period of 2 years, up to and including the day of the application for entry in the register.
Any combination of the following:
- Utility bills
- Bank / building society account / credit card statements
- Council Tax records
- Electoral register
- Payslips showing home address
- Rent statement
- Mortgage statement
3 – Proof of employment
Have worked in the area for a continuous period of 2 years, up to and including the day of the application for entry in the register.
- P60 annual statement of earnings
- Employment contract / letter confirming length of employment
4 – Proof of sufficient financial resources available to applicant to purchase a plot of serviced land for self-build or custom housebuilding project
The council will require relevant evidence of sufficient resources as follows:
- An offer for a self-build mortgage from a verifiable lender (for example, a member of the Council of Mortgage Lenders). Any evidence provided must clearly show that the release of funds for the purchase of land – which is usually the first phase of funding released – covers any proxy land value used by the council for the purposes of assessing this criterion
- Written confirmation and evidence from a qualified financial advisor with active membership of a verifiable and appropriate professional body. This evidence should clearly outline that the applicant has sufficient readily accessible funds / equity to purchase land
- Any other information which demonstrates, to the council’s satisfaction, that the applicant has sufficient resources to purchase land for their own self-build and custom housebuilding
- Where multiple funding sources are utilised, evidence may be required that funds will be readily accessible for the purchase of land phase of the project
Any information submitted needs to demonstrate that sufficient resources are available to purchase land. Regulations do not require evidence of sufficient resources to cover build costs or other associated costs.
Where an applicant provides information on total financial resources available for an entire project – e.g. purchase of land, build costs, fit out costs – the council may request further details such as an itemised list of funds for each phase of a project, to ensure that the land purchase costs can be met. Where multiple funding sources are utilised, evidence may be required that funds will be readily accessible for the purchase of land phase of the project.
The council may utilise information on recent land transaction costs and / or any other reasonable method of arriving at a proxy land cost to determine applications. As land values change over time, we may require updated evidence of an applicant’s ability to fund the purchase of the land.
The council will ask for further information where necessary; or refuse an application for entry in the register due to lack of information.
What are the eligibility criteria for entry on to the register?
Applicants to the register must satisfy the following criterion:
Basic eligibility criteria
- 18 years of age or over
- A British citizen, a national of a EEA State other than the United Kingdom, or a national of Switzerland, and
- Seeking (either alone or with others) to acquire a serviced plot of land for own self-build or custom housebuilding project to occupy as main or sole residence
Local eligibility criteria
- Live and / or work in the Epping Forest district for a continuous period of 2 years, up to and including the day of the application for entry in the register
- Have the financial resources to purchase a plot of serviced land for self-build or custom housebuilding
*Exemption – members of the Armed Forces or ex-services personnel who left the service no more than 2 years from the date of application are exempt from this condition.
Each applicant in joint applications must meet the eligibility criteria including members of the same household.
Applying as part of a group (association)
Applications from groups / associations of individual are accepted. However, all group members must satisfy the above criteria to enter the register. To be entered on to Part 1 of the register, each group member must satisfy both the basic and local eligibility criteria.
Associations must provide a lead contact who will act on behalf of the members.
Do I have to pay any fees to join the register?
Currently the council does not charge any registration and / or annual fees to enter or remain on the register. However, the council reserves the right to introduce such fees at any time.
How to apply
If you need any further information:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call 01992 564283
What happens next?
The council will inform applicants within 28 days of receiving applications of whether they have been accepted onto and which part of the register. Unsuccessful applications or applicants who have been entered onto Part 2 of the register will be also informed within 28 days of receiving applications with reason(s).
Is there a right of appeal against the council’s decision?
There is no right of appeal if the council decides that an applicant does not meet the criteria. However, the council must give reasons if it decides an applicant fails to meet the criteria and therefore cannot be entered onto Part 1 of the register. This must be done in writing within 28 days of the date of such a decision.
What happens after you are entered onto the register?
Once accepted onto the register the Council will write to applicants periodically to:
- Establish if applicants wish to remain or withdraw from the register
- Obtain or share relevant information, and
- Inform applicants on Part 1 of the register when it has permissioned suitable land with contact details of the landowner where consent has been obtained
- If development permissions granted in council owned land and no interests received from applicants from Part 1of the register, the council will invite expression of interest from Part 2 of the register
Where can I find more information on self-build and custom housebuilding?
A range of information on self-build and custom housebuilding can be found in the links below: