- demand from Self-Builders
Response to Self-Build Demand
Graven Hill, near Bicester, is largest self-build development scheme in the UK. With over half of Britons keen on building their own home, Cherwell District Council decided to create a unique ‘village’ concept. With that in mind, the village has been designed to simplify the planning and development process and enable people to achieve their dream.
1,900 New Home Site
Catering for a wide variety of sizes, including large individual plots for grand designers or smaller plots for people on more modest budgets, there are also opportunities for groups of people to work collaboratively to build their homes, perhaps creating a block of low cost apartments or a terrace of eco homes.
Overseas many people to build this way. Graven Hill is the first large-scale project of its kind in the UK. It aims to be a trailblazer, pioneering a new way of delivering customised homes and empowering communities.
Former MoD Site of 188 hectares
Just south of Bicester the site covers around 300 football fields. The MoD will progressively vacate over the next 5 years. It has direct access to the Bicester bypass, about 3 miles from junction 9 of the M40.
Features & Layout
Arranged in a circle around a wooded hill, the woodland and vast open space will create a really great place to live. Outline planning includes a primary school, employment space, a local pub/restaurant and a small number of local shops.
5 Bed Plots Sell Out
By October 2016 Graven Hill brought forward more 5-bed ‘Golden brick’ plots in response to high levels of demand from local buyers. This comes just a week after twelve new village centre plots were released to the market.Operations Director Adrian Unitt said, “We have been delighted with the high levels of interest from local buyers wanting to build their dream home at Graven Hill and who are taking advantage of the priority period. Demand is particularly strong for the larger 5 bedroom Golden Brick plots and I’m pleased to say we have been able to bring forward the release of a further four plots of this type. We will of course be releasing many more plots over the coming months.”
These state the maximum gross internal area (GIA), which is the size of house that you can build. However the Graven Hill Local Development Order excludes from the GIA certain facilities that are ‘incidental to the enjoyment of your home’ – for example a swimming pool or summer house - and fuel containers for heating your home. There are rules governing this, for example you must not build in front of the front elevation of your home and there are height restrictions. Each Plot Passport allows plenty of design freedom whilst ensuring there is design coherence across Graven Hill to create a distinctive and high quality environment for all residents.
Fast Sales for ‘Idyllic’ Plots
By November 2016, a few months after sales commenced, twenty-six Golden Brick plots had been released close to the village centre, including a mix of three, four and five bedroom plots. Among plots still available were only two suitable for a four or five-bedroom home in the first part of the village to be completed. There were also some smaller three-bedroom plots with a rural outlook still available. ideal for first time buyers or those with a young family. All are within easy walking distance of the village centre, which will have a primary school (due to open in 2020), a mix of shops, a café and a pub. Beautiful woodland areas with walking trails and a children’s play areas are nearby, with green pedestrian routes linking the village to Bicester town centre.
£270k - £340k for “Premium” Plots
Between January and February sealed bids were invited for seven premium, six-bedroom plots, located in close proximity to the site’s feature hilltop with fantastic views of the woodland. Guide prices ranged from £270,000 to £340,000 with the plot sizes ranging from 4,736 square feet to 6,910 square feet. An overview of each home design within the framework of the Plot Passport and design code had to be submitted with the sealed bid.
Individual Planning Consents NOT Needed
Each Plot Passport stipulated the parameters within which homes can be built, like maximum height and acceptable materials, replacing the need to obtain individual planning consent for each plot.
But Finances & Programme Necessary
Applications had to include confirmation of funding, the ability to proceed and a cost plan.
All Plots ‘Snapped Up’
Despite the hefty price tags, by early March all plots had been sold This meant that 83 per cent of plots on the first phase have now been reserved, leading to a further eight plots being release with guide prices of between £230,000 and £265,000. Graven Hill is expected to release a range of new products over the coming months and is expecting the first residents to move onto the site later this year.
Proof if Proof Were Needed
Since the early 2000’s we have argued that Self-Builders could be an important part of the answer to Britain’s housing crisis and that more development land was needed to facilitate this. Graven Hill provides the proof of the pudding – and demonstrates that self-builders can and will pay both for well=located land and for sizeable new homes.
More High Quality ‘Kit’ Homes Needed
Noticeably, Graven Hill lists ‘Kit Homes’ in its supplier lists, recognising their expectation that (many of) these new homes will be built – at least in part – Off-Site. However, they do not seem to have embraced this fully within their design briefs. In our view, the whole process of designing for, engineering, manufacturing and building ‘Off-Site’ manufactured houses, has to be a process of continuous product improvement.
Short Run Pre-Fabrication
As long standing Chartered Building Consultants (CIOBC) this forms part of our approach to pre-fabrication. It helps us deliver the high quality homes that architects and their clients want at prices they can afford. Using computerised modelling and all that goes with it, we are making small batch off-site fabrication of compound elements increasingly possible. With much of our production being based around timber, SIP, or CLT panelised elements, the increasing use of 3D and BIM modelling is at the heart of our processes. Not only does this help to achieve greater economy, it also makes for greater safety. We welcome approaches for the development of new ideas and methods.