New build numbers may be up, but a creative approach is still needed

The latest new dwellings statistics, published by ONS earlier in January, have revealed that the number of new dwellings built in Q4 2018 increased by 12%, in comparison to figures for the same period last year.

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As the statistics show, this is still not enough to meet demand, with between 240,000 and 340,000 new homes needed per year.

With this in mind, it has been suggested that a total rethink to the approach to UK housing development is required to ensure that those looking to get onto the housing ladder – and those looking to move up it – have the options and access they need.

The government’s Help to Buy scheme has backed almost £40bn worth of UK home purchases since 2013 and has positively affected the number of new build homes available on the market.

However, as the recent Letwin Review concluded, there is a strong need for well-designed places, with a variety of house types which match the needs of the people wishing to live in the area.

This customisable approach to housing has been addressed in part by the National Custom & Self Build Associations’ Right to Build register, which requires local authorities in England to maintain records of those who have a desire to self-build.

Whilst the register is most certainly a step in the right direction, more can still be done to ensure that the sector tackles the housing crisis with quality as well as quantity.

One example of a project that has taken this approach is Graven Hill, an innovative self and custom build development in Bicester, Oxfordshire.

Supported by local authority backing from Cherwell District Council, Graven Hill is regenerating a 188-hectare former Ministry of Defence site, with the aim of changing the way people think about building and purchasing new homes.

The site has a range of self-build plots, ready for those who wish to take on the project themselves, while custom-build options allow buyers to make changes to the interior to better suit their needs, without getting hands on with the build.

While many aspire to design their own home, whether that be through a self-build or custom-build approach, planning permission can be a setback.

However, in cases such as Graven Hill, local authorities are providing support in streamlining the process, through pre-agreed plot passports.

If more widely adopted, this approach to planning could drastically improve the experiences of many people across the country and provide an alternative approach to the standard route to home ownership.