Shapps’ speech signals support for ‘self build’

Encouraging support for ‘self builders’ was signalled by the Government today, with Grant Shapps articulating his strong belief that helping more people to build their own homes could be the answer to the country’s housing crisis.

His speech today at ‘Grand Designs Live 2011′ outlined Shapps’ vision for self build (which doesn’t necessarily mean ‘build your own’) to become a mainstream housing option. He wants the Government (and the HCA, as a major landowner) to play a part by making available publicly owned land to people to build their own homes.

He also mentioned a project I am familiar with (and blogged about as being one to watch last year) in Bristol, where the Community Self Build Agency is leading the development of accommodation for homeless ex-servicemen and offering those same people vital training on the construction project. Although this project is not being built on public land, and would not be happening without financial support from the HCA, it remains a fine example of the very best of what the Government wants to achieve.

I blogged recently about considering self build for my family. As I continue to read about the pitfalls and risks involved, announcements like today’s are welcome. It won’t help us get the finance together, find a decent plot or a trusted builder, but it may stabilise the housing market stabilise by bringing a greater number of ‘small time’ builders into the game. This can only be good for those people who can’t get onto the housing ladder.

Besides, I don’t suppose it would be called ‘self build’ if someone else had to do everything for you. But if one of the publicly owned plots the Government releases to self builders happens to be in Temple Cloud, that really would be a bonus.

House prices hit home for Cornish MP

Cornwall’s house price problem hit the headlines again today, with news that local MP Stephen Gilbert can’t afford to buy a house in his constituency.

Mr Gilbert, MP for St Austell and Newquay, put his PR skills to good use by using his own circumstances to highlight the problems faced by locals who have no hope of saving for a 20% deposit in high value areas like Cornwall.

Busy Christmas break for communities department

Self build - homes of the future?

Ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) today revealed what their teams had been up to during the Christmas break.

Secretary of State Eric Pickleswritten statement to Parliament outlined his department’s recent undertakings, which included a new initiative to help local communities revitalise disused pubs and social clubs, taking action to make local government more transparent and launching plans to support people to build their own homes.

Meanwhile, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell also set out plans today to bring a proportion of the country’s 300,000 empty homes back into use.

As someone who works in housing, including recently with the ‘self build’ industry, and is looking to possibly build a house, I will be watching these developments with interest.