Graven Hill DIY homes plan moves forward

No Caption ABCDE
No Caption ABCDE

DIY housebuilders could soon be creating their own dream homes on a site at Graven Hill near Bicester after Cherwell District Council (CDC) agreed a value with landowners the MoD.

Members of CDC’s executive are due to be updated on the self-build proposal’s progress on Monday.

Planners have been in talks with the MoD for months over the project, which could create the country’s largest development of self-build homes.

The news comes after CDC signed an agreement in March to co-operate with the MoD over the scheme, and to accept the results of an independent valuation of the site.

Under the plans, the council will take charge of the project and guide development of the land.

The MoD was granted planning permission to build a mixed-use development including 1,900 homes on the site last month.

Although no final deal has yet been signed, councillors are hopeful the scheme could become a national example of best practice.

The military railway system around Graven Hill could also be incorporated into the project.

Councillor Debbie Pickford, CDC’s lead member for housing, said: “Nothing is set in stone yet.

“We’re still gathering money, and making sure issues like contamination of the land are sorted.

“There are a lot of partners waiting in the wings, and there has been a lot of support from big business in Bicester.

“It’s a win-win-win situation – there’s housing, employment, and the railway.”

She added: “It’s a very exciting project, and I really hope it comes off. We just have to proceed step by step.”

Shops, businesses, community facilities and a hotel have also been granted planning permission as part of the mixed-use scheme.

The plans are linked to the creation of a 70,000 sq m MoD distribution centre on land at Upper Arncott, which will be within 100 ft of the nearest back garden in Norris Road.

The 61ft-high building will be in operation 24 hours a day.

The warehouse and new businesses are set to create more than 2,000 jobs.

Bicester’s MP, Sir Tony Baldry, has lobbied ministers over ‘garden city’ status for the town, which would allow access to a pot of funding worth more than £200million.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has already been in contact with Cherwell District Council over the garden city proposals.

Earlier this year, Sir Tony said the funding could help Bicester reconcile its 5,000-home eco-town with other major developments including Kingsmere and the Graven Hill plans.