On Thursday 2 March, the Graven Hill site at Bicester welcomed the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP.

The pioneering project, which is the vision of Cherwell District Council, spans 188 hectares on the old Ministry of Defence site and will be, when completed, the largest self-build development in the Country.

Cherwell District Council is already leading the way in terms of housing provision. It is the fastest provider of new homes in the UK and its award-winning, nationally recognised Build! project is turning brownfield land into affordable housing opportunities for local people to purchase or rent.

Graven Hill is an extension of the Build! scheme with 1,900 homes (all self or custom-built) being delivered over a 10-year period.

On his visit the Secretary of State was accompanied by Cherwell District Council representatives, Cllr Barry Wood (leader), Cllr Ian Corkin and Cllr Dan Sames (also Director’s of Graven Hill), leader of Oxfordshire County Council Cllr Ian Hudspeth and North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis, herself a ‘self-builder’.

Speaking afterwards the MP for Bromsgrove said: “I was delighted to have a tour of the innovative Graven Hill development. This impressive concept will provide many people with a home they can call their own and I’m pleased to see so much interest already.”

As well as a tour of the site, the group met with one of the first builders on site – the aptly named ‘Pioneers’ whose progress is being recorded by television presenter, Kevin McCloud.  For Cllrs Corkin and Sames “reality has now started to come out of the ground – as opposed to it just being a diagram on a map.”

They added: “It has been a huge delight to welcome the Secretary of State to Graven Hill. Cherwell District Council is proud to be delivering such an innovative project that doesn’t just provide the houses people want but also offers an affordable alternative for those struggling to get on the property ladder. Graven Hill completely different to the ‘little boxes on the hillside’ style development people are used to. It is hugely exciting to see the concept come to life through bricks and mortar but more importantly through the community ethos which is already being adopted here.”

Graven Hill plots are being released for purchase on a rolling basis. Throughout the build, plots will be made available to residents or employees in the Cherwell District ahead of the national market. Space is also being created for commercial development, due to start in 2019.