Guide Self-build and custom build

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7. Self-build Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Councils legal duties on self-build?

As a Local Planning Authority we must comply with certain legal duties in relation to self-build.  These are set out in the 2015 Self-Build Act as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016.  There are three main legal requirements.:

  • Firstly, that we hold a register of people wishing to self-build in East Devon. 
  • Secondly, that we have regard to the register in our planning, housing, regeneration and estate management functions. 
  • Thirdly, that we permission enough serviced plots to meet the demand shown on the register. 

Details of how we are meeting these requirements are included in our annual self-build monitoring report.

What do we do with information taken from self-build applications?

We product an annual monitoring report which is considered by our Strategic Planning Committee so that it can be taken into account in our planning, regeneration, housing and estate management functions. 

We also use the information to inform our planning policies, help in the preparation of neighbourhood plans and it is a 'material consideration' when determining planning applications.  The personal details of individuals on the register are not publicly available, but details such as the number of people on the register, where plots are sought and what budgets are available is published in the monitoring report. 

See also Self-build and custom build - How will we use information from the register? - East Devon. 

Is land for self-build 'set aside' in planning allocations?

No, none of the existing local plan allocations have land reserved for self-build, but the emerging Cranbrook Plan does have a draft policy that would require this for the 'expansion areas' (see Policy CB12) of the Cranbrook Plan and draft policies are being considered in some neighbourhood plans.

Does being on the self-build register make a difference to a planning application?

No, not directly, but we do have a duty to permission enough serviced plots to meet the general level of demand for self-build as shown on Part 1 of our self-build register.  More details of this can be found in Section 3 of the monitoring report and in the February 2020 report to Strategic Management Committee.

Is it possible to make a planning application or ask a planning officer for an opinion before purchasing land?

Yes, you don't need to own land to make a planning application for it, but you do need to serve a formal notice on the owner that you are making a planning application.  Please be aware that any planning application relates to the land rather than to the applicant so the landowner may choose to sell the land to someone else and would benefit from the uplift in the land value that went with the planning permission. 

Details of our pre-application advice scheme (for which there is a fee) can be found at Pre-application advice - East Devon.

Is there an obligation for the Council to tell people about self-build plots?

No, there is no obligation to do so.  There is an obligation to grant enough planning permissions that are suitable for self-build to meet the demand shown on the register, but we have yet to grant a permission that is specifically for self-build.

If land owners advise us that they have plots for sale that they consider to be suitable for self-build we will email the people on the register, but so far this has only happened once.  We will reconsider the position when land does come forward that is either allocated or permissioned exclusively for self-build.

Does East Devon have a local connection test?

Yes, our register is split into two parts as allowed for in The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Regulations 2016.  Government guidance on this is given in the Planning Practice Guidance.  The decision to keep the local connection test was last considered in February 2020 by the Strategic Planning Committee.  Applications that meet all the eligibility criteria of the local connection test are placed onto Part 1 of the Register. 

Those applications that fail the local connection test but otherwise meet the basic eligibility criteria are entered onto Part 2 of the Register.  The numbers on the whole of the register are used to help us determine the overall demand for self-build and to plan for it.  The number of self-build plots that we need to permission to meet our legal duties relates to the numbers on Part 1 only.  More details can be found at Self-build and custom build - What is the self-build and custom house building register? - East Devon.   

Is there a financial solvency test for being on Part 1 of the register?

No, there is currently no financial test.

Is there a charge for applying to the self-build register?

No, there is currently no charge.

Do any Neighbourhood Plans have policies about self-build?

Yes, the 'made' Membury Plan has Policy HP5 'Small scale self-build housing' and the draft Newton Poppleford plan has Policy TD2 'Affordable homes to meet local need through a community land trust'.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions not listed above or if you have any further queries by emailing


When this content has been updated

Last updated 17 June 2020