A guide to joining Brighton & Hove’s self-build and custom housebuilding register

As part of National Custom and Self Build Week 2018 (7-13 May), we are encouraging local people interested in community-led housing to join the local Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Register.

The Right to Build requires all councils to maintain a register of individuals and groups of individuals who want to build their own home. It places a duty on them to grant sufficient development permissions for serviced building plots to meet demand on a rolling three-year basis.

Registering is a good way of improving the chances for Brighton residents to self/custom build their own homes. Here’s what to do:

1. Check your eligibility for entry in the register. Are you:

  • aged 18 years or over
  • a British citizen, a national of an EEA State other than the United Kingdom, or a national of Switzerland
  • seeking (either alone or with others) to acquire a serviced plot of land in Brighton & Hove City Council’s area to build a house to occupy as that individual’s sole or main residence
    In the case of groups wishing to register, the above criteria must be met by all members.

2. If you want to know more, have a look at the Brighton & Hove City Council self-build register website here.

3. Send an email to housing.strategy@brighton-hove.gov.uk and say you want to be on the register. You can apply as an individual or as part of a group of people. Include this info in the email:

If you applying as an individual

  • Your name, address and date of birth
  • Confirmation that you are a British / EEA or Swiss citizen
  • Confirmation you are applying as an individual

If you are applying as a group

  • Your name, address and date of birth
  • Confirmation that you are a British / EEA or Swiss citizen
  • Confirmation you are applying as part of a group
  • Supply the full individual information (the above three points) for all the group members.
  • Confirm the number of plots of land you might want to acquire.

4. Unless BHCC have any more questions you should now be on the register and receive a confirmation email like the one below:

Congratulations! You are now registered.

Find out more about self-build and the register here

How to set up a housing co-op? – 17th May

Helen Bartlett from Rosa Bridge housing co-op will be talking about how to set up a housing co-op on Thursday 17th May from 6:30PM in the Hanover room in the Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YD. (map here)

Housing co-operatives are one of many ways to create more genuinely affordable and secure housing in the city. There will be time for both a brief introduction to housing co-ops as well as more in-depth advice on how to set them up, based on the experiences of Rosa Bridge. Space will be given for questions and networking.

We have limited places available. Please email admin@bhclt.org.uk as soon as possible to find out more and sign up.

The workshop is free, but we require participants to become BHCLT members (fee £1). Join here: bhclt.org.uk/membership

More info on Rosa Bridge

Rosa Bridge is a small, queer, feminist co-op of five members, set up in 2014 with the help of a grant from the DCLG’s Empty Homes Programme. It is part of an old dairy in the Tarner area of Brighton.

Rosa Bridge aimed to take housing, especially in the city centre, away from private ownership and to be part of creating different alternatives to notions of ‘home’.

What is a housing co-op?

A brief introduction video to what is a housing co-op is below (focused on student housing co-ops, but relevant to all housing co-ops). Housing co-ops don’t have to be for students – there are several which already exist in Brighton & Hove for people of all ages, including Rosa Bridge housing co-op.

Please also see our community-led housing groups guide for more information on housing co-ops


Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust – General Meeting and Social – 8th May

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (CLT) warmly invites you to its General Meeting & Social Evening on Tuesday 8th May, between 5.30pm – 8.30pm in One Church, Gloucester Place, Brighton, BN1 4AA.

Come and shape the CLT’s vision and values, help build the movement for community-led housing in the City, and find out how to become a CLT member or a Director.

We’ll break for a shared meal at 6.30pm (please bring food to share) and a chance to chat, socialise and network with others interested in community-led housing.

Limited space, so booking essential. Book via eventbrite here.

We apologise that the venue is not easily accessible for wheelchair users or those with mobility difficulties. However, we’ll make every effort to help you access the event if you’d like to join us.

Feel free to contact admin@bhclt.org.uk to ask any questions.

Not sure what it means to be a Director? We recognise that a wide and diverse set of skills and experiences is vital to developing the Trust. Download this brief to get an idea of the role.

Cohousing social on the 2nd May

Are you a member of a cohousing group?
Or interested in joining or setting up a cohousing group?

Join us for a drink and a chat…

Wednesday 2nd May
6pm – 7.30pm
Upstairs at the Earth & Stars Pub, 46 Windsor St, Brighton, BN1 1RJ (map here)

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust is organising this informal event for anyone actively involved or interested in cohousing to come together, meet new people and share ideas, experiences, and strategies. There won’t be any presentations, just the chance for you to meet, chat and network.

Just turn up on the 2nd May.

More details about cohousing communities are can be found on the UK cohousing network.

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust team

Self-build is a good way to build your own affordable housing and we can support you to do it!

Image from the Right to Build portal

Do you need more affordable housing? Are you in housing need? Ever thought about building your own home?

The Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust are encouraging as many people as possible to register on Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC) self/custom build housing register. Registration is currently free of charge, but it may not stay like this so we are asking people to sign up quickly. Information about how to register can be found on the council website and below.

Registering is a good way of improving the chances for Brighton residents to self/custom build their own homes.

Registering does not mean you have to follow through and build – you can change your mind at a later stage. The important thing is that Brighton & Hove City Council will take account of demand on the Register when preparing its Local Plans. The registers can also be used to alert people on it when land is made available for Custom and Self-Build housing.

How do I register?

To register, follow the instructions on this page. We have also published a guide here.


What is self build and custom build?

Self-build usually means that you are directly involved in the design and building of your home.

You could build your home:

  • Yourself
  • With the help of a contractor
  • With a group of other self-builders, sharing knowledge and expertise

Custom build usually means that you work with a specialist developer to design and build your home. It is more of a ‘hands off’ approach.

The developer could:

  • Help you find a plot
  • Build your home
  • Arrange finance for the cost of building your home

For more information watch an introduction to self-build for community-led housing groups. If you are in a self-build group and would like expert support and grants to help realise your ideas, please email us at admin@bhclt.org.uk

Coldean Community ‘Have your Say’ Meeting

On the 28 of March we helped Coldean resident Ian Bailey organise a community meeting. The aim was to get locals together to talk about their area and how they’d like to see it develop. Ian and Dot (our Community Enabler) spent time flyering the local area and as a result was that 30 people came along to have their say!

Brighton & Hove City Council have identified areas in Coldean called ‘urban fringe sites’ that have the potential to have houses built on them. One of these is being assessed presently for the development of a significant number of houses. Residents have already seen a lot of change to their community with the construction of the University of Brighton halls at Varley Park. Whilst there are some concerns and questions still to be answered many of the group came with ideas of how any potential development might be done. In particular, how this might enhance the local area, sharing how they’d like to see Coldean grow and come together to move forward.

We spoke about the local woodland and trees, access, community facilities, sports facilities, noise, services and much more and now have a list of ideas to consider and develop together. By far the most popular idea was a community centre/hub that could serve the neighbourhood and provide multiple services. Ian and Dot will be holding another meeting soon where we’ll bring forward some options and opportunities to discuss further and take forward.

Are you a Coldean resident or do you work in Coldean perhaps? Would you like to come to our next meeting to see how things progress? Send Dot an email on dotkirk@bhclt.org.uk and we’ll keep you in the loop.

Our Community Enabler Dot provided meeting space and helped plan and facilitate as well as providing refreshments. If you’d like to run something similar in your area get in touch!

How are you governed? Find out more about Sociocracy

Sociocracy is a governance system that aims to balance inclusiveness with effectiveness. It is popular with housing communities in the US and elsewhere. Interested in finding out more? Join our workshop on Saturday 5 May.

How groups organise and work together significantly impacts on what they can achieve. Sociocracy is structured somewhere between regular hierarchies that we’re likely all used to, and ‘flat’ consensus-based formats that others may have experienced. It helps to reap the benefits of both formats – namely efficiency as well as equality.

Linked teams of people (circles) work semi-autonomously to understand the issues they have to deal with and create policies together, using inclusive techniques such as rounds and consent to make decisions efficiently.

Sussex Cohousing uses Sociocracy as it’s method of governance, decision making and general working together. This is because they believe it is organised, inclusive and has ongoing learning from experience built in. This workshop will offer an introduction to the system and practices as well as showing something of how Sussex Cohousing work together. This could be useful for other community-led groups, or in any area of life where you’re working with others.

Two members of Sussex Cohousing will give an overview and a chance to try one or two methods.

The workshop takes place on Saturday 5 May, 10.00am -1.00pm. We have limited places available. Please email admin@bhclt.org.uk as soon as possible to find out more and sign up.

The workshop is free, but we require participants to become BHCLT members (fee £1). Join here: bhclt.org.uk/membership

Looking for land or property? Join our workshops in April

One of the biggest challenges for community-led housing groups in Brighton & Hove is finding suitable and affordable land and property. This is why we have Nicola Thomas as part of the Community-Led Housing Programme staff team. Nicola is an architect with over 30 years of experience, specialising in sustainable architecture.

We are running two free workshops for people who are trying to start community-led housing projects:

Finding suitable land and property with Nicola Thomas and local estate agent, Paul Bonett
Friday 6 April – 2-5pm
Develop your site criteria, learn more about the local land and property context and work with others in your group to decide the next steps in your search for land/property.

Understanding planning and development with Nicola Thomas; Liz Hobden, Head of Planning; Brighton & Hove City Council; Ian Coomber, Absolute Town Planning and Anthony Probert, BioRegional.
Fri 20 April – 2-5pm
Learn more about planning and development processes and policy, including how to create a brief and the steps for designing and potentially constructing your project.

Both workshops will be a great opportunity to get to know people in other community-led housing groups. Workshops are free, but we require participants to become BHCLT members (fee £1). Join here: bhclt.org.uk/membership

We have limited places available. Please email admin@bhclt.org.uk as soon as possible to find out more and sign up.

Introduction to self-build workshop

Are you considering building a community-led housing project from scratch? Join us for a free workshop on Saturday 17 March in Brighton.

Group self build schemes can result in significant cost savings – sometimes as much as 40%. It also means you can have a say in creating the wider community. If your community-led housing group is thinking about this option then join us to hear from:

Places are limited to 20 people. The deadline for registering is 14 March. Email admin@bhclt.org.uk to find out more and sign up.

Thinking about a mortgage? Sign up for our lending surgery

Representatives from four organisations which lend to community-led housing will be in Brighton to give groups advice.

Many community-led housing groups will need to apply for a mortgage, in order to finance their project. There are several lenders who specialise in this area and we are offering groups in Brighton & Hove the chance to speak to them and ask questions.

Both sessions run from 3.00pm until 6.00pm and you will need to contact admin@bhclt.org.uk to sign your group up for a slot during that time. Surgeries are available on a first come, first served basis so sign up quick!

These are the lender representatives who will be available:
Monday 5 March: Jon Lee, Ecology Building Society and Carolyn Sims, Charity Bank
Monday 19 March: Mark Ogden, Triodos and Sonya Powe, Unity Trust bank

Both sessions will take place at Brighton Junction, Isetta Square, 35 New England Street, BN1 4GQ