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Government to axe building charges

The government has unveiled new reforms aimed at boosting the housing supply by reducing the cost of self-building a property.It is to abolish charges that add significant costs for people who want to build their own home or developers looking to construct a small number of properties.A number of councils have applied Section 106 charges that have rendered such projects unviable - for instance, a £32,000 charge that would be levied on a self-build two-storey three-bedroom house in the New Forest.The levy, which exists to help fund affordable housing, is to be scrapped for self-builders, homeowners and developers wanting to bring redundant buildings back into use, along with builders keen to make use of small sites.Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: "People who have worked hard and saved hard should be able to build a home or make changes to their property without paying out excessive charges."Their home should be their castle and not a cash cow for their local council. They shouldn't be clobbered with thousands of pounds of charges just for building a house or adding an annexe for an elderly family member."He added that cutting the excessive number of levies and charges on housebuilding will support families and builders, while ensuring more homes are built.The government hopes the changes will help builders who are keen to take on more work. The reforms will add to the assistance provided by the £525 million Builders Finance Fund announced in the Budget, which is targeted at small and medium-sized builders.Its announcement comes after recent reforms that exempt self-builders and householders building extensions and family annexes from paying the Community Infrastructure Levy, which had been placed on buildings over a certain size.Changes to Section 106 are designed to bring it into line with the infrastructure levy and support reforms due to be introduced in April which mean there will no longer be a Council Tax surcharge on family annexes.Developers of smaller housing schemes comprising ten homes or fewer, and those bringing disused buildings back into use, will be exempt from affordable housing levies. 

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