Caution urged over Graven Hill

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A council leader has urged caution as progress continues to be made on plans to create country’s largest development of self-build homes on land at Graven Hill near Bicester.

Speaking on Monday night, Cherwell District Council leader, Councillor Barry Wood, described the scheme as ‘exciting’, but said officers must proceed with caution to safeguard taxpayers’ money.

CDC has already agreed a value for the land with site owners the MoD, and signed an agreement to co-operate with the MoD over the scheme.

Councillor Debbie Pickford, CDC’s lead member for housing, said the next stage for officers would be to carry out ‘due diligence’ in terms of legal matters, geotechnical surveys, checking buildings for asbestos, and examining the ground for contamination.

“We just want to make sure we are buying something we can handle,” she added.

Cllr Wood said: “This is a very exciting opportunity at Graven Hill, but Council Tax payers will not thank us if we did not do it properly and carefully, so I think that we are morally, legally and professionally obliged to go through this next process of due diligence and buy in the ability to do it.”

Members of CDC’s executive agreed to go ahead with the due diligence process on Monday night.

The MoD was granted planning permission to build a mixed-use development including 1,900 homes on the site in April. Shops, businesses, community facilities and a hotel could also be part of the scheme.