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Custom and Self-build Register

What is custom and self-build?

The terms 'self-build' and 'custom build' are used to describe instances where individuals or groups are involved in creating their own home.  The amount of personal involvement will vary.

  • Self-build projects are defined as those where someone directly organises the design and construction of their own home.  This covers a wide range of projects from a traditional DIY self-build home to projects where the self-builder employs someone to build their home for them.  Community-led projects can also be defined as self-build and self-finish affordable housing schemes or 'sweat equity schemes' where occupants are offered a discounted shared ownership or reduced rent according to the level of finishing off they undertake.

  • Custom build homes are where you work with a developer as an individual or a group to help deliver your own home.  The developer may help to find a plot, manage the construction and arrange the finance for your new home.  This is more of a hands-off approach but your home will be tailored to match your individual requirements.

The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 requires Councils to keep a register of households who wish to custom or self-build in their area. From 31st October 2016 further regulations placed additional duties on the Council, requiring it to grant sufficient planning permissions for serviced plots of land, to meet the demand for self-build homes as shown on the Register. 

Cheshire West and Chester launched its register to assess demand for self and custom building in January 2016 asking potential custom/self-builders to complete a questionnaire on the type of project they are interested in. As of July 2018 there were 309 applicants on the register.

How is custom and self-build demand and supply assessed?

The custom and self-build register has been used to assess demand by splitting the register into ‘base periods’. The table below shows the number of people currently registered for each base period. Local authorities have three years from the end of each base period to grant planning permission to provide enough ‘serviced plots’ to meet the demand shown on the Register.

 Base period Start and finish dates Number of people on the registerPermissions to be granted by 


1 January 2016 to 31 October 2016


31 October 2019


1 November 2016 to 31 October 2017


31 October 2019


1 November 2017 to 31 October 2018

55 to 1 Aug 2018

31 October 2021

Individual local authorities are able to decide which of the planning permissions they grant, meet the demand shown on the register. The most likely sites to be purchased for self-build in Cheshire West are those with permissions for a single dwelling, although it is possible that sites with permissions for more than one home will come forward for self-build purposes.

More work is being undertaken by the Council to establish the supply of self-build plots, but currently all single permissions are being recorded as suitable for self-build. At present there are no larger sites where a proportion of sites have been specifically allocated for self-build. It is hoped that the evidence of demand now shown on the self- build register will result in successful negotiations to encourage this in line with local policy. 

It is not proposed that the Council will offer sites to applicants on the register, although when land owners come forward with sites specifically for self-build, their details will be passed on to applicants on the register who are seeking that type and location of plot. There are however many sites with planning permission that can be used for custom/self-build, with some self-builders already guaranteed planning permission on suitable plots. 

The total number of sites with planning permission for a single unit at 1 April 206 was 153 dwellings, an additional 145 permissions have been granted for conversions of change of existing use of a building which may also contribute to the supply. 

The Housing Land Monitor report below details current sites with planning permission that applicants may wish to pursue although these permissions are often applied for and implemented by the applicant and/or landowner and are therefore not available for purchase. Please not the list of sites is contained within a table at the end of the report.

For further advice on the Housing Land Monitor please contact the planning team.

Powers to apply eligibility criteria


The new legislation has also given the Council powers to apply criteria for entry onto the self-build register. These include local eligibility conditions and an assessment of financial resources. This would divide the register into two halves:


  • Part 1 where local eligibility tests are applied 
  • Part 2 for applicants that do not meet the local eligibility criteria.

The Council is required to meet the demand from Part 1 applicants only. The Council can also charge a fee for registration and for applicants to remain on the register.

Profile of current applications and plots



The Cheshire West and Chester Custom and Self-Build Register currently requires applicants to provide detailed information, to create a profile of potential custom/self-builders.  This enables us to establish where people are most interested in building a property, the size of property required, household characteristics, timescales and   how the build will be financed. The Register data has been analysed to understand what self-builders in West Cheshire are looking for and how application of eligibility criteria will impact on base period numbers.

Summary of register analysis (July 2018):


  • Just over half of the applicants on the register currently live in the borough;
  • The majority of applicants wish to live in a rural area, although a fifth indicated they were flexible on location;
  • 96 per cent are owner occupiers, with significant equity in their current property;
  • Around two thirds of applicants on the register would like four or more bedrooms;
  • 93 per cent want a detached dwelling on a single plot;
  • The majority of applicants have stated their income is over £35,000.

Plot prices across the borough vary considerably.  For example, currently a plot in Lostock Gralam, Northwich, with planning permission for a single detached unit would cost £55,000, and a half acre plot in Lower Peover with permission for a 4 bedroom detached property would cost £600,000. The median value of a plot with planning permission in the borough for a single home is around £200,000.


Proposals to apply eligibility criteria


Based on the current position, it is proposed to apply two local eligibility criteria from December 2018:


1.     Applicants are required to have a local connection to the borough. They must either:

a)    currently reside in Cheshire West and Chester and have lived there for 12 months,

b)    have previously lived in the borough for a period of at least five years,

c)    have immediate family (sibling, parent or child) who currently live in the borough, and have done for at least 12 months,

d)    have permanent employment in Cheshire West and Chester


2.     Applicants must have sufficient equity/ savings or a formal offer of a self-build mortgage, to purchase a serviced plot with planning permission in Cheshire West and Chester. This is a minimum of £50,000.



Application of these criteria would have the following effect on the first and second base periods:



Number on the register withBase period 1 Base period 2  Base period 3 (to July 2018)

 No eligibility criteria




 Local connection only 




 Resources to purchase plot only




 Local connection and resources criteria both met




Applicants would be required to provide evidence of how they meet the local connection and financial criteria. It is proposed to charge a fee of £50 to cover the costs of administering the eligibility tests for Part 1 applicants. Entry on to Part 2 of the register would be free of charge.

How can I provide comments on the proposed changes to the register?


Before making a decision on application of eligibility criteria, the Council would welcome your thoughts on custom and self-build in Cheshire West and Chester. Please contact the Affordable Housing Team for a questionnaire:


All current applicants on the register have been sent a questionnaire

How can I apply to go on the register?


The Cheshire West and Chester Self Build Register is still open for applications pending the implementation of eligibility criteria and there is currently no fee charged for applications. If you would like to join the register please use the online link below


If you apply to go on the Register this does not guarantee that the Council will identify a suitable site for you. At this stage the register will be used as evidence to inform policy. 

For further advice on completing the application form to go onto the register please contact the affordable housing team.



Telephone: 0151 356 6410


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