Bicester – Graven Hill Village

Graven Hill Village is the UK’s first large scale self- and custom-build opportunity, which has started going up on the edge of Bicester. We are currently in discussion with Graven Hill Village Development Company about the possibility of purchasing land on the site for a co-housing community. Graven Hill was established in 2012 by Cherwell District Council who wholly own the development company.

Graven Hill will have a “country” feel but with the advantages of an urban environment. Nearby are a Tesco superstore, Bicester Village with its numerous outlets, Bicester town with its traditional market-town feel and the new Bicester Village railway station with good links to Oxford and London. It is five minutes from Junction 9 of the M40.

We had a very successful meeting on 18th October 2018 with the Graven Hill Village Development Company, who were very supportive of our scheme. Two possible further sites were discussed. More details about Graven Hill and our discussions with them will be posted here. In the meantime, please visit the Graven Hill website for more information.

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Some of our members with our architect at the meeting with GHVDC  18th October

Our Graven Hill, Bicester cohousing project wants to build a socially inclusive and self-reliant neighbourhood of about 30 sustainable homes for members aged 50 years and upwards. At the centre of the community there would be a Common House where all members would participate in shared activities whilst also having their own private home. One design would provide mostly flats – one, two and three bedroom apartments – plus probably four terraced houses for those who particularly want their own garden space and have larger pets. Another design could focus on a terrace of dwellings on individual plots, with a central Common House. Resident members – both owner-occupiers and tenants (the exact mix of owner occupiers, rental units and affordable homes is yet to be determined) – will have their own separate dwellings and also share rights to certain common facilities including the “Common House”.

For some the scheme is a way of joining an ‘eco’ self-build project (GHDC is encouraging the use of passivhaus construction, bringing energy costs to an absolute minimum); for others it is a way of providing a secure and supportive environment through the second half of life – without putting oneself in the hands of a large and perhaps expensive institution.

If and when an agreement is reached, this will be a watershed – design and planning can then start in earnest. The considerable challenges that will also follow are summarised. These include attracting and absorbing additional members and arranging project finance. Recruiting more members to increase the financial viability of the project is dependent on having a firm scheme to offer to people and thus as with other cohousing schemes that have taken many years to get off the ground the early years are particularly challenging. But we are encouraged that other cohousing schemes at this stage have successfully tackled these challenges.

We held a very successful open meeting on 17th November at the Clifton Centre Bicester . Details are in the blog