A piece on one of BD Online’s blog today was stressing about the prospect of Tesco getting involved in the UK self-build market, and idea which Housing Minister Grant Shapps has been toying with this week according to Building Design Magazine.
Shapps has spoken on this a couple of times already this year – indeed I covered one occasion in an earlier post. This latest flurry of interest has Shapps musing whether land and kit-houses could be avilable in large DIY outlets or even supermarkets like Tesco. Such talk makes BD’s blogger understandably nervous, but if Shapps could really get some volume into the self-build market it would be great for both ‘punters’ and architects alike. This was my thought on the subject:
The potential for growth of the self-build market in the UK is huge (we all want to design our own home, don’t we?), but it won’t be unlocked by design; this isn’t a problem of design, it’s a problem of land. Developable land is in short supply in the UK because the planning system is broken and the land-developing industry is dominated by deep-pocketed PLC house-builders. There are two points in the business where value is created and profit can be realised: (1) on the increase in land value created by a planning permission and (2) and on the construction/sale of a house. The problem is if a house-builder creates self-build plots they are effectively giving away one of their opportunities to make a profit – which is why developer-supplied self-build plots (such as those at Hampton Vale West in Peterborough – only 17 plots out of 7,000) are vanishingly rare. And if there’s no volume in the market, Tesco won’t make any better fist of the self-build/kit-home idea than Ikea did (remember Bo-Klok?). If Shapps really wanted to help perhaps he should force developers to make a proportion of each of their sites (10% say) available for sale as serviced plots, on developments above a certain size – 100 units perhaps.
More on self-build and the NPPF here.