ASPIRING housebuilders inspired by TV shows such as Grand Designs could be sold special plots to build their own homes in a North-East borough if a proposal to offer up former council depot for such ventures is approved.

Under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, Darlington Borough Council, alongside other local authorities, must keep a register of individuals and associations who wish to acquire serviced plots to bring forward self-build and custom housebuilding.

The legislation, which received cross-party support, seeks to increase the number of self and custom-built properties. Its supporters believe it will help increase the supply of affordable homes and ease the housing crisis.

With only about a tenth of its housing stock from self or custom-built homes, Britain lags behind the US and European neighbours. Housebuilding and investment experts said one of the biggest emerging trends pre-pandemic was the rise of modern methods of construction, such as modular housing, and self-build homes.

The legislation states applicants must meet all of the eligibility criteria for entry on the register, which include being aged 18 or older, being a British citizen or a national or a European Economic Area state or a national of Switzerland and satisfy any local eligibility conditions set by the local authority.

A report to a meeting of the council’s leading members states the legislation also requires the authority to grant sufficient plots with services, such as sewers, water and electricity, to meet the identified on the register for each year.

It highlights that registration does not guarantee that a suitable plot will be identified or will become available.

The report states to comply with the legislation Darlington must provide one serviced plot by this month and a second within a year for two separate individuals and the council-owned former Cockerton depot site off Woodlands Road is considered to be a suitable site for two homes.

The council demolished the timber depot building several years ago, leaving the concrete base and a brick built lock-up garage on the site. The lock up garage is no longer in use and the land which has stood vacant for years is now considered surplus to the council’s requirements.

The report states: “It is intended that the plots will be available for sale with the benefit of an outline planning permission and prospective purchasers will then be required to submit a reserved matters application for detailed planning consent.

“To protect the council’s position and ensure a quality product the council would initially transfer the land to the self-builder under a building licence.”

In considering whether a home is a self-build or custom build home, the council must be satisfied that the initial owner of the home will have primary input into its final design and layout.