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Red Tape

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Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund

Custom Build Investment Fund

The Homes and Communities Agency's (HCA's) Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund provides a £150 million fund for schemes of between 5 and 200 housing units. Funding will be made available to support the development of serviced plots to help the growing number of people who want to custom build their own home.

Serviced plots are shovel ready sites with planning permission, where plots or parcels of land are laid out and ready for construction. Access is provided and each plot or parcel of land has utilities/services provided within its boundary.

Access to the fund is on a fully recoverable loan basis and is for private sector developers (particularly small and medium-sized), housing associations, Community Land Trusts or community groups.

Funding from other HCA programmes (for example the Builders Finance Fund) can be applied for providing it is not for the same work. Any outstanding HCA loan must also be repaid ahead of any further funding.

Details at a glance


  • To provide serviced plots to help custom builders secure a 'shovel ready' site.
  • Addresses the challenges that custom builders face and supports people who want to build their own home.
  • The fund provides short-term loan finance to help support schemes.
  • Eligible qualifying expenditure includes on-site infrastructure costs; provision of on-site utilities; land preparation; demolition; fencing and landscaping; and professional fees.


  • Schemes must deliver sites with 5 or more shovel ready plots ready for further development.
  • Bidders must be a constituted body of good standing with the capability to deliver their project.
  • Projects need to have outline planning permission (with reserved matters) as a minimum to qualify for funding.
  • Loans are available for residential projects only where the project leads to the construction of new custom build.


  • Bidding for the fund is available on a continuous basis until funds are allocated.
  • The fund will make investments until 2019/20.
  • Total funds must be drawn down by 31 March 2020 and repaid by 31 March 2025.


  • A prospectus which sets out the full details of the fund for projects outside London is available here
  • Contact the Homes and Communities Agency on 0300 1234 500
  • Email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Questions and Answers

1. What are Custom Build Serviced Plots?

These are 'shovel ready' sites with planning permission, where plots or parcels are laid out and the land is ready for construction. Access is provided and each plot or parcel has utilities/services provided to the plot/parcel boundary.

2. Who can apply for the fund?

Private sector developers (particularly small and medium-sized), housing associations, Community Land Trusts or community groups can apply for the fund. Applicants must be a constituted body of good standing with the capability to deliver their project.

3. What does the funding cover?

Expenditure qualifying for loan funding includes:

  • on-site infrastructure directly related to the construction of the homes such as access roads, footpaths and cycle-ways
  • provision of on-site utilities/services which are provided to plot/parcel boundaries
  • land preparation required to prepare building plots (including remediation)
  • costs associated with the demolition of any existing buildings on site
  • fencing and structural landscaping required to secure the immediate site boundary (this excludes fencing or structural landscaping for individual plots)
  • professional fees directly associated with works funded through the Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund.

4. Will the fund cover land acquisition costs?

Land acquisition cannot be funded by this repayable loan. Details on what the loan will and will not fund are outlined in the Prospectus.

5. What information will be required as part of the application process?

Please refer to the Custom Build Serviced Plot Loan Fund Prospectus Annex B and C for an overview of the information requirements and application process. Each application will be assessed in a two-stage process: initial assessment leading to shortlisting; and due diligence. The latter process will verify suitability for funding including:

  • Bidder and project financial standing;
  • Evidence of site ownership and planning status;
  • Availability, sources and status of other project funding;
  • The amount of Custom Build Serviced Plots loan required and interest rate to be charged;
  • The project delivery risks are at an acceptable level and mitigated by the security offered for the funding required.

6. Do projects require planning permission in order to apply?

As a general rule applications should have outline planning permission (with layout and access confirmed) as a minimum. Applications without planning permission may be considered if the applicant is in control of the land or where the site has been designated in an adopted development plan. However, no loan funding will be payable until an outline planning permission is in place. If the fund is over-subscribed, schemes which have planning permission will be given preference over those without.

7. Evidence of previous development experience is a requirement for loan funding. How will this process work for community groups such as Community Land Trusts?

For newly created legal entities and legal entities created specifically for a Custom Build Serviced Plots loan application can effectively demonstrate a "track record", for example, in their selection of development partners with previous experience in this area.

8. Will the costs of off-site infrastructure (for example, related to S278 agreements) be eligible for funding under the Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund?

Off-site infrastructure that is essential to unlock a Serviced Plot site for development may be considered for funding in exceptional circumstances. This will be assessed on a case by case basis and, if agreed, the level of the costs will be apportioned to the size of the scheme proposed under the Custom Build Serviced Plot Loan Fund.

9. If my bid is successful what other finance costs will I be expected to pay?

Applications which successfully complete the due diligence and contracting stages will be expected to pay the related costs for a Monitoring Surveyor appointed by the HCA. The developer will also be expected to pay their own legal fees and loan interest charges. The HCA will pay its own legal fees.

10. Will the HCA accept a junior position in the debt structure?

The HCA will look at each application on a case by case basis and assess the security that is being offered for the loan. The Agency will expect to take a senior ranking position.

11. As part of my proposal, can I offer security as a charge over alternative unencumbered assets which I hold an interest and/or control over?

Yes. The HCA will consider all forms of land and/or property security, subject to due diligence and viability assessments.

12. Can I recycle receipts?

The proposed cashflow for each application for funding will be tested during due diligence. Recycling of receipts back into the project and its impact on investment recovery will be considered by the Agency on a case by case basis.

13. If a bid for funding is successful, can the loan be repaid early?

Yes. Every Custom Build Serviced Plot loan will commence with an agreed cash flow setting out all project expenditure and receipts. Earlier, or better than forecast receipts from plot sales, could enable earlier repayment of the loan.

14. How will continuous market engagement work?

Bids can be made when the applicant is ready and will be assessed on a rolling basis. Typically, the initial assessment of a bid should be completed within one month from submission.