What Is The Right To Build Scheme?

What Is The Right To Build Scheme?

…..And How Can It Benefit Me?

If you’re considering a self-build project, you’ve probably heard about the Right To Build scheme, which came into force in October 2016. However, if you’re not up to speed with this legislation, and you live in England, you should explore it further because there are genuine opportunities out there for custom and self-builders to exploit.

In this blog, we provide an overview of the scheme, detailing the initial information you need in order to help you decide if this is something you should apply for.

So, what is the Right To Build scheme?

The main objective of the Right To Build scheme is to address the UK’s housing shortage. It’s a bid to encourage self-building and make the process more affordable. Local authorities across England are now obliged to hold Self Build Registers of people who wish to build in the area. Assuming you meet the criteria (see below), the local authority is then required to make available enough serviced plots to meet demand. You must register on the Self Build Register to be eligible for the scheme – and crucially, the numbers on this register dictate how many plots your local authority has a duty to make available.

There’s a real onus on you, the custom builder, to register – it’s the only way to get on the list, and the only way to put your council under an obligation to find a suitable serviced plot.

In essence then, every council in England must (with some exemptions) provide enough serviced plots with planning permission for building a residence, (ie access to public highway, and with connections for water, electricity and waste water) to meet demand.

How do I know if I can apply?

If you’re a British citizen or an EU or Swiss national, and over the age of 18, you can apply to register on the scheme.

As mentioned above, there’s no guarantee that your application will be eligible to register on the scheme, but assuming it is, you will be asked if you’re applying as an individual or as part of a group. If you are part of a group, you’ll be offered the chance to create a co-housing or community build, and the council will likely look for a site that will accommodate several plots. If you are applying as an individual or family, you’ll be asked a number of questions to identify which area you’re interested in, and what type of property you want to create.

Whilst you don’t have to have a local connection to register in a specific area, this would mean that you only qualify for Part Two of the scheme (ie no local connection), and this in turn means that the council isn’t currently under an obligation to provide a suitable plot. However, this information is likely to be used to gauge local demand.

How do I access the information and register my interest?

There’s a number of ways of finding the information. You can search on your local authority’s website, call your planning department for information, or check out one of these two sites:


Are there any downsides?

The Right To Build scheme is not currently available in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, due to their delegated powers. Different groups are putting pressure on these governments to adopt a similar scheme so watch this space.

Although virtually all local authorities now have a live register available, it’s yet to be seen how councils will respond, because we’re still in the relatively early days of the scheme.

Bear in mind that it’s not guaranteed that you will be offered a plot that is exactly what you want – authorities are obliged to make ‘suitable, serviced’ plots available, but of course, what is suitable for one person is not necessarily ideal for another. You may find that you’re offered a brownfield site or similar, or that your plot is adjacent to others, rather than the secluded idyll you’re hoping for. The best way to avoid being something that doesn’t suit you is to provide as much information when registering as possible.

You should also consider that there could be a long wait for suitable land to become available – councils have up to three years to source a suitable plot, so it’s wise to keep looking separately, in case you hit upon the perfect site for you. Finally, remember that you will of course will have to obtain planning permission for your individual requirements.

What information do I need to provide?

This varies but in general, you’ll need to provide something along the following lines. It’s well worth taking time to complete this properly, as it helps your council to match you with land that will actually work for you.

Local connection

Size of plot

Why you want to build

When you could start work

Preferred area

Finances (cash or self-build mortgage etc)

You’ll also need to provide proof of identity and your name/address.

What happens next?

Your council should contact you within 28 days to let you know if you’ve successfully registered. Not everyone will be eligible but you should be told why you don’t meet criteria, so that you can reapply.

The council has up to three years to find a suitable plot of land with the appropriate permissions to build. Remember that it may take this long for suitable land to come up for sale. Also think about what kind of land will come up in your particular area. For example, in high population density areas, this may mean suitable plots will include numerous dwellings on the same area of land so you’d be less likely to be offered a secluded rural location.

There will be some exceptions to a local council’s obligations. Details are still emerging, but an example would be if a large amount of land in a particular borough is protected/green belt land.

How can Bespoke help me?

We are the self-build experts. We have a wealth of experience and knowledge and have a team of great professionals who can advise you. We know Bristol, the South West, Gloucestershire and South Wales like the back of our collective hand, and have many years’ experience with dealing with local planning departments. We can guide you through the process of custom and self-build from day one – choosing a style of home that’s perfect for you, helping you to create architectural plans, navigate planning regulations and so on. We can talk you through the pros and cons of the Right To Build scheme, chat to you about likely plot availability in various boroughs, and help start you on the road to building your dream home.

Give us a call to find out more.