Graven Hill mass self-build community planning simplified

Date: 8 July 2015

People building their own homes at the "UK's largest self-build community" may not need individual planning permission if council proposals are agreed.

Cherwell District Council bought the former Ministry of Defence site Graven Hill in Bicester, Oxfordshire, for the construction of up to 1,900 homes.

It wants to adopt a Local Development Order so homes built to pre-approved guidelines would not need permission.

A public consultation will be held before the order can be adopted.

The authority wants the 1,900 homes to be separated into phases with a different order for each phase, beginning with a smaller area for between 100 and 200 homes.

Self-builders who want a property built to their own specifications would still be able to apply through the normal planning process.

'Freedom to interpret'

Planning councillor Michael Gibbard said: "This is the first time a Local Development Order has been considered for a self-build development of this size so we are setting the benchmark for the future.

"Although we want self-builders to have the freedom to design and create their own homes at Graven Hill, we don't want it to become a free-for-all. We need to retain some control.

"However, if our planners were to consider up to 1,900 individual applications, plus retrospective submissions, it would place a huge demand on their services and slow the planning process down for everyone.

Mr Gibbard said the order would set the maximum height, depth and building materials but would give self-builders the "freedom to interpret those specifications to their own style".

The 187-hectare site will also accommodate one million square-feet of commercial space, a primary school, a pub or restaurant and shops.