Londoners are being encouraged to sign up to a new register that will gauge city-wide interest in a programme which could see councils allocate plots of land for small-scale housebuilding across the city.
The ‘Build Your Own London Home Register’ is open to individuals who have an interest and the capability to take development into their own hands. The register will give City Hall a live database that will display the level of interest and demand across London, and help shape future housing policy for the city.
It is envisaged that the register will empower Londoners to shape their own living spaces the way they want, and contribute to vibrant and unique communities. Facilitating this ‘custom-build’ method of construction empowers individuals and groups and strengthens neighbourhood links, and creates local construction jobs.
Once the Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 becomes law later this year, local councils will have a duty to set up their own registers for people looking to acquire land to build a home, and to offer suitable land opportunities. The London register will help provide a model for how these local registers may be run and data can be shared with boroughs directly.
Smaller registers have been running since earlier this year in other parts of the United Kingdom, but this is the first chance for Londoners to show their interest. The city-wide register will cover the largest area in the country in terms of size and population and be run by the Greater London Authority.
The ‘Build Your Own London Home’ programme complements the range of initiatives the Mayor Boris Johnson has put in place to increase the supply of affordable housing in London. The Mayor is within reach of a target to build 100,000 affordable homes across his two terms at City Hall, with 94,000 already in train. 18 out of a planned 20 Housing Zones have been designated across London, allowing for large-scale development to be fast-tracked in areas where it may not otherwise have happened. A target of 50,000 affordable homes produced from this scheme has already been achieved, ahead of schedule. And in a bid to boost the supply of new housing, the Mayor has released 99 per cent of all land held in his portfolio for development, ensuring it is put to productive use.
Deputy Mayor for Housing and Land, Richard Blakeway, said:
“Through initiatives such as Housing Zones, the London Housing Bank and the Affordable Homes Programme, City Hall has a range of measures in place to increase housing supply in the capital but we’re always looking for new and innovative ideas. By setting up the Build Your Own Home register, we will be able to gauge how many Londoners are interested in building their own homes. I urge any individuals willing to take on the challenge to sign up.”
Small-scale construction has its place even in a large city like London, and it is important that Londoners who wish to take on the responsibility of building their own home are afforded the possibility of doing so, particularly in cases where productive use is made of brownfield land that would otherwise lay empty. This so-called ‘custom-build’ method of construction is relatively new to the United Kingdom but has had success in continental European countries such as Sweden.