New company created to oversee self-build development of 1,900 homes

Artists impression of Graven Hill Development PNL-140603-181257001
Artists impression of Graven Hill Development PNL-140603-181257001

A new company is to be created to oversee the UK’s largest self-build housing project.

The Graven Hill Village Holding Company will be responsible for delivering housing at the former Ministry of Defence (MoD) site, near Bicester.

The company will be completely owned by Cherwell District Council and its subsidiary, the Graven Hill Village Development Company.

It will allow the council to undertake commercial trading activity lawfully via them while retaining control of the site instead of selling it to a private developer.

The 187 hectare site will accommodate 1,900 self build homes, creating up to 2,000 new jobs and apprenticeships, a primary school, pub/restaurant and local shops.

Contracts with the MoD have been exchanged allowing the council to purchase the site and once this sale is completed within the next few weeks, the site will be immediately transferred to the development company.

Cherwell District Council leader, Barry Wood, said: “Under the Localism Act 2011, local authorities can only carry out commercial trading activity through a company.

“As such, we had to consider numerous options including selling to a private developer, appointing a partner or forming our own company.

“After putting together an extensive business case, councillors have agreed the latter is the best option to ensure our vision is achieved.

“By following the company formation route we will be meeting the requirements of the Localism Act while retaining control of the site.

“Delivery through a company gives the council the independence to ensure the vision is achieved yet offers the flexibility to bring in additional investment and development partners who want to work with the council to realise its vision.

“In turn, it will also allow the council to use the profits from developing this site and reinvest them throughout the district.”

The development company will feed into the holding company which in turn will be accountable to Cherwell, its executive councillors and a partnering board consisting of elected members, holding company directors and council officers.

The boards of both the holding company and the delivery company will be comprised of council officers and elected members in unpaid roles.