Graven Hill FAQ’s

Graven Hill FAQ’s

Build It Live Bicester takes place in association with Graven Hill, the UK’s first large-scale self build project with outline planning for up to 1900 homes, including more than 700 serviced self build plots.

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about this fascinating self build opportunity, but more information can be found at the Graven Hill Zone at Build It Live Bicester and on the Graven Hill website at

Where is Graven Hill?

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 Bicester, the site feels quiet and rural with an ancient woodland, breathtaking scenery and vast open spaces which all combine to create a great place to live.

What is the vision for Graven Hill?

Graven Hill is currently the largest and most exciting opportunity in the UK for people who want to build their own home. The development is designed to suit projects, budgets and households of all sizes and will include opportunities for people to build as individuals or share skills and build as groups. 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, a community centre and a pre-school nursery. There will also be premises available for shops and a local pub. The site also provides a strategic location for new employment space, creating jobs and training for local people and attracting new investment into Bicester.

Why is Cherwell District Council involved in this?

As a local authority Cherwell District Council is eager to promote a range of housing options in the district, with self and custom build opportunities amongst them. 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.

Why should I get involved in this?

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

Location: Graven Hill is on the edge of Bicester, a growing town 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 is – 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 and most exciting opportunity to build your own home in the UK. You will be able to design your new dream home around your family, lifestyle and needs, working in line with your budget and your architectural preferences. For many this will be something that comes along only once in a lifetime’.

How do I sign-up?

If you are looking to sign-up to buy a plot or home straight away, you can speak to a member of the sales team at Build It Live Bicester. On the day, book your 1-to-1 appointment slot with an expert from the Graven Hill team. Alternatively, email or call them on 01869 396 070.

Will I have to be financially qualified?

You do not have to be assessed to register your interest or talk to the team at Graven Hill about the various opportunities, 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.

Can I buy the land and hire someone to build my house for me? If so, who could I hire?

Yes, absolutely. For self-build properties built upon one of Graven Hill’s services self-build plots, we recommend that you do some research and establish your budget. You can hire a local builder or contractor to build a home for you in the traditional way, providing that your design and materials meet the energy efficiency criteria of the site. Alternatively, we advocate the use of offsite construction, as this can often prove the most effective and efficient way of delivering the home you want, with the cost certainty that many people need.

When will the land be available to buy?

We will release plots of different sizes and in different character areas 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, such as our customisable Tailored Finish new homes. The creation of Graven Hill could take up to 10 years. The first plots in Phase 1A were released for sale in August 2016 and Phase 1B was released in November 2017. To find out what plots are available, visit the Find Your Home (/map/index) section of this site or talk to the Graven Hill team.

Is there a stipulation on how long I have to stay there?

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 will therefore take a balanced and pragmatic approach to this.

How much Affordable housing will be involved and where will it be?

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.

I’m not a builder, architect or an ‘expert’ – could I really do this?

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. We definitely suggest that you do as much research as you can.

How long does it take to build a home?

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 contract.

What kind of house could I build?

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.

What else will be built at the site?

There will also be: a primary school, a community centre, a pre-school nursery, amenity spaces (including sports pitches and allotments), space provided for businesses interested in running local shops and offices and a public house.

Can I buy two plots of land next to each other to make a bigger house?

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.

Can we visit the site?

Yes, absolutely. We will be running coach tours up to the Graven Hill site from Build It Live Bicester 2019. Head over to the Graven Hill zone to book your seats on one of our buses. The tours will run hourly from 11am to 3pm on Saturday 8 June and from 11am to 2pm on Sunday 9 June. Alternatively, you can book a seat on one of our regular minibus tours of the site. These happen at least once a month and seats can be booked by visiting and searching for Graven Hill.


Graven Hill Zone