Policy H/CB: Self and custom build homes

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will set out how custom build and/or self-build homes across Greater Cambridge will be delivered.

Proposed policy direction

5% of all new homes in residential developments of 20 dwellings or more will be required to be custom and/or self-build, provided that the Greater Cambridge self and custom build register is recording a demand for self and/or custom build homes when a planning application for 20 or more homes is considered.

A mechanism will be included within the policy to allow for plots identified to be for self and/or custom build homes to be delivered by the developer or others if the plot has not been sold as a self or custom build plot after at least 12 months of appropriate marketing.

Proposals for individual or small groups of custom and/or self build homes will be considered against the policies that would apply to proposals for residential development in that location.

The policy will also allow for 'community led’ self and/or custom build projects where the ‘community’ has formed an organisation as required by the national self and custom build legislation and their proposed self and/or custom build development is compliant with the proposed policy approach.

Why is this policy needed?

National planning policy requires the housing needs of those who wish to commission or build their own homes to be reflected in planning policies. National legislation requires local authorities to keep a register of those people seeking to acquire serviced plots within the area for their own self-builds and custom builds, and through the same legislation local planning authorities have a duty to grant planning permission for enough suitable plots to meet the identified demand. 

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Responses received to the First Conversation 2020 consultation highlighted both a shortfall in the provision of self and custom build in Greater Cambridge compared to demand on the Councils register, and that the register is likely to overestimate demand due to the attractiveness of the area and the ability to be included on more than one register. Some respondents suggested that the Councils should promote self and custom build opportunities on the edges of villages as exceptions to policy. The comments received highlighted the need to include a mechanism for the delivery of self build plots that are not taken up within a specified timescale, and also that the viability of requiring self and custom build plots on new developments should be sufficiently tested.

What alternatives did we consider?

1. To allow the development of custom and/or self-build housing generally as an exception to policy - This is not the preferred approach as it is likely to hamper the delivery of rural exception sites for affordable housing.

2. No policy - Not considered a reasonable alternative as the Councils have a duty to permit sufficient plots to meet demand and the provision of sufficient plots is unlikely without a policy.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 7: Homes
  • Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy 2019-2023: Homes for Our Future and Annexes 1-8 (Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, April 2019)
  • Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk Housing Needs of Specific Groups Study (2021)
  • Housing Needs of Specific Groups Study – Addendum for Greater Cambridge (2021)
  • Greater Cambridge Custom and Self Build Register 

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy H/9: Housing Mix

Cambridge Local Plan 2018 - None

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