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 are due to have our next of a series of meetings with GHDC on 18th October 2018. 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.

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 have an open meeting on Saturday 17 November 2018 at the Clifton Centre, Bicester from 11:00 to 1:00. There will be an opportunity to meet members, listen to short presentations about cohousing and our project and ask questions. It will be followed by a bring-and-share lunch. If you would like to attend this meeting or find out more about the scheme at Graven Hill and ongoing work to develop a scheme in Milton Keynes please contact Still Green at stillgreenweb@gmail.com, use our contact form, or just come along!