What’s in the news : Could the future be self-built housing?

Could the future for council housing be self-built?

Council houses have often been criticized in the past for their uniformity. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, local authorities built more than 40% of homes. Rows and blocks of houses were built where there was a boom in demand.

Nowadays, council builds present more gloomy figures, with it dropping to less than 2% last year. In 2017, housing associations built 32,320 houses, private housebuilders 159,310 and councils just 3,280.

Restrictions on council borrowing to build houses is expected to be lifted by the government in the near future, which would stream an additional £10 billion into council housing.

The idea that the next generation of council housing could be self-built presents a solution to the current housing crisis, giving councils a dominance in housebuilding once again.

How would it work?

Rather than councils commissioning housebuilders in volume, land would be provided by councils at a nominal price and contractors would be brought in to build the foundations and shells of the buildings.

Tenants would have a say in the design, interior and finish of the property and shared ownership would be optional. This would allow tenants to feel that their home meets their requirements, giving them a say in how they live.

Will it work?

Similar schemes are already being launched around the country.

In London, a group of people priced out of buying their own homes are currently working with the council to build 40 self-build homes on a scheme in Lewisham. The scheme will include 5 council houses and 12 shared ownership houses.

Similarly, a private developer in Cornwall is selling 54 plots for terraced housing. Heartlands development buyers will get to decide on the appearance of the houses, E.g. whether they are open plan, upstairs and downstairs living quarters.

A new target of 300,000 houses has been set by the government this year. Between 10-30% of new council-built houses should incorporate elements of self-building, some of which will be for shared ownership.

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