FAQs

Frequently asked questions

Here, we answer some of the questions we are frequently asked about the opportunities at Graven Hill and what is involved with creating your dream home in this superb location.

We will continue to add more information as the project progresses. If you can't find the information you want or your question is more general, please get in touch and we will respond as soon as we are able.

  • The Graven Hill site lies just to the south of Bicester and extends to 188 hectares. Currently the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has a presence at the site, but it is expected that they will have vacated the majority of the site by the end of 2019.  

    Graven Hill is well connected to the road and rail network and it lies approximately three miles from junction nine of the M40.  

    Although in close proximity to the town, the site feels rural with an ancient woodland, breath taking scenery and vast open space which all goes to create a great place to live. 

  • Graven Hill  is currently the largest opportunity in the UK for people who want to build their own home. This will be for households of all sizes and will include opportunities for people to build as a group and as individuals.


    A beautiful development with extensive open space including woodland, allotments, a network of cycle and footpaths and amenity spaces.  Graven Hill will have a primary school and a community centre.  There will also be premises available for shops and a local pub together with a pre-school nursery.  


    The site also provides a strategic location for new employment space creating jobs and training for local people and attracting new investment into Bicester.


  • As a local authority Cherwell District Council is keen to promote a range of housing options in the district including self and custom-build. The council is also keen to ‘play its part’ in delivering new housing and developing brownfield sites such as Graven Hill.

    Cherwell District Council also sees the wider benefits such as the introduction of new open space areas and the creation of local employment.

  • Because of legal rules that limit the power of councils to operate in a trading environment, commercial operations such as this must be delivered through wholly owned companies. To this end the council has created (and owns) Graven Hill Village Holdings Limited Ltd and Graven Hill Village Development Company Ltd to own and develop Graven Hill.

  • This is a unique opportunity, not only locally but nationally. The key selling points are:


    • Location. Graven Hill is in Bicester with fantastic local amenities, beautiful countryside and excellent road and rail links.
    • Open Space. Graven Hill is an attractive site, with extensive open space, including the hill itself with its amazing woodland. The great news it’s going to get even better. There will be at least eight play areas, wonderful landscaping, sports amenities, allotments and a network of cycle and footpaths. It is also proposed that some of the existing heritage of the site will be made into ‘features’. 

    • Opportunity to build your own home. This is currently the largest opportunity to build your own home in the UK. You will be able to determine the home for you and your family in line with your budget and your needs. For many this will be something that comes along only once in a lifetime’.
  • If you are looking to sign-up to buy a plot or home straight away, contact a member of our friendly sales team.  You can make contact in a number of ways, send a message through this site Sign up.  Email:  sales@gravenhill.co.uk or call them on 01869 396070.

  • You do not have to be assessed to register, but in order for you to reserve a plot you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds (or can access them through raising a mortgage) to acquire the land and build a home.

    If you want to have priority with local connection you will need to evidence this.

  • Yes absolutely for Golden Brick properties. 


    We recommend that you do some research first to establish your budget.  You can hire a local builder or contractor to build a home for you in the traditional way - especially if they have been recommended to you. At Graven Hill we do advocate the use of offsite construction as this can often prove the most effective and efficient way of delivering you the home you want, with the cost certainty that many people need.  




  • We will release phases of plots every year until the whole of Graven Hill is built out. We anticipate that each phase will contain a mix of Golden Brick plots as well as other products.  


    The creation of Graven Hill could take up to 10 years, which equates to approximately 200 homes per year. The first plots in Phase 1A were released for sale in August 2016 - to find out what plots are available visit the Find Your Home section of this site.  


    More detail about future phase releases will be available on the website.  To avoid missing out on Graven Hill news, we recommend that you register your interest and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date about plot releases.

  • We would like this to be a sustainable, settled community and would therefore hope that people would stay for at least three years.


    We are keen to prioritise opportunities for people who want to stay and there will be a financial penalty for people who ‘sell up’ within the first three years of buying their plot.


    However we do recognise that sometimes circumstances change and are therefore we will take a balanced and pragmatic approach to this.

  • As with most major development sites, 30 per cent of the homes at Graven Hill will be designated as Affordable. Affordable housing will be available across the whole site.

  • Absolutely! If you are not ‘in the trade’ then you could approach this in a number of ways:


    • You could engage with the manufacturers of a kit home who can design and build your home for you
    • You could appoint your own design team and a project manager to procure the contractors on your behalf

    Do as much research as you can.  There are a number of really useful self-build information websites:


  • This varies considerably depending on a range of factors including:


    • Whether you do the work yourself or engage others (friends or paid contractors) to help you
    • The size of your home
    • The complexity of your design
    • Your construction approach, for example a kit home may be quicker on site, but may require a longer lead in time before you start on site

    Please note:  The Graven Hill site has a stipulation that your house must be completed within two years of the completion of your Golden Brick 

  • No, however the sales process for each release of plots will open to people who live and work in Cherwell District ahead of the national market.


  • At Graven Hill there will be a range of plot shapes and sizes and depending on their location within the development, varying levels of design freedom.


    One of the great things about building at Graven Hill is that you are in control and you can build a home that is totally configured to your lifestyle and your taste.  

  • There will also be:


      • Primary school 
      • Community centre
      • Amenity spaces, including sports pitches and allotments
      • Space provided for businesses interested in running local shops and offices, a public house and a pre-school nursery 
  • No, the plots are individual. However, it may be possible for you and a family member or friends to buy plots next door to each other and/or you could build with a group of others to save money and pool your skills.

  • We advocate the use of high energy efficient materials which is why every home built at Graven Hill will be required to comply with Fabric Energy Standards, which are in excess of the Building Regulations requirements and are unique to the development.


    The technical requirements to meet these standards are set out in the Plot Passports. Following all the rules on the Plot Passport carefully means your planning permission should be confirmed quickly.

  • The term refers to the condition in which the plots at Graven Hill will be transferred to purchasers at the completion of the sales contract. All of the plots will be sold with the foundations, drainage, substructure walls, ground floor slab and utility connections already in place. This is termed as a Golden Brick sale. The foundations, drainage, substructure walls, and ground floor slab will be designed and installed by Graven Hill to suit each self-builder's home design.


    The adoption of this method of delivery is necessary in order that the sale constitutes the grant of a first major interest in a residential dwelling which currently attracts a zero rating for Value Added Tax under current HMRC rules

  • Yes, you are allowed to incorporate a basement within your property for up to 40 per cent of your maximum GIA (gross internal area)


    If you are planning a basement it will form part of the ‘Golden Brick’ work that Graven Hill Village Development Company delivers along with your plot and will therefore be added to your purchase price.



  • We would like this to be a sustainable, settled community and would therefore hope that people would stay for at least three years.


    We are keen to prioritise opportunities for people who want to stay and there will be a financial penalty for people who ‘sell up’ within the first three years of buying their plot.



  • The open space at Graven Hill is considered to be as important to the character of the site as the buildings themselves. Accordingly, the various woodland, field & wetland habitats proposed have been designed with as much attention to detail as the urban environment.

    The existing abundance of rich greenery will be protected as far as possible, with new recreational parks being introduced for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. Proposed open space features include a Gateway Park located immediately adjacent to the main site entrance along the A41 that serves to provide a welcoming environment upon arrival. This lush & informal wetland park will contain swales, ponds, marginal planting, meadow-like grasses & meandering walk/cycle routes.


    The pockets of woodland will be preserved & opened for public use. Discrete, rural tracks of packed gravel & trodden ground will ramble through the lowland woods & up to hilltop areas, providing access for walking, cycling, educational activities & play.

    A series of field habitats including meadows & possiblY grazed farmland are also proposed with paths that roam through wildflowers, long tufty grasses & along native hedgerows.

  • Yes, a Premier Warranty will cover both the substructure and superstructure.

  • The beauty of a self-build scheme is that you are able to build the type of dwelling that suits your aspirations, depending of course on the size of plot you purchase.  

  • GIA stands for Gross Internal Area.  This is defined as the total enclosed internal floor area, above ground level of a building, measured within the external walls, taking each floor into account and excluding the thickness of the external walls. 


    The GIA includes any integral garages and conservatories.  

  • All purchasers need to be qualified by Buildstore.  


    A number of lenders now provide mortgages for self-build homes.  We strongly recommend you speak to a broker or lender and get an initial opinion on whether you will be able to get a mortgage and how much deposit you will need before spending money on design.

  • This will depend on the size and value of your home. Council tax bands can be viewed on the council’s website: www.cherwell.gov.uk


    Please note a final valuation for council tax purposes will not be given until your home is completed.

  • The Graven Hill project will not only present a unique opportunity for self-builders, but also for local suppliers who will be able to support the market.


    Whilst the Graven Hill Village Development Company is unable to endorse any organisations, we are keen to engage with suppliers to ensure they have up to date information.


    Please register on the Graven Hill website

  • The vision for Graven Hill is to create opportunities for people who want to build their own home for them and their household and not to create investment opportunities.

  • Yes, but only as part of an official Graven Hill accompanied site tour. Click here to book a spot on the next available trip.

     

  • The matter of internet speed is not yet fully resolved, but we anticipate that Graven Hill will benefit from the prevailing high speed broadband available to the area and as Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). 

  • Bicester currently has 2 secondary schools. These are as follows:


    The Cooper School (approx. 1270 pupils)

    Location

    Ofsted Report    


    The Bicester School (formerly Bicester Community College) (approx. 890 pupils)

    Location 

    Ofsted Report


    Additional planned secondary school provision will be provided at the nearby Kingsmere development in SW Bicester.



    Please also note that the Graven Hill Village Development Company is contributing c£8.2m towards local secondary school provision.

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