Ground laid for DIY builders to start

Bicester Advertiser: Cllr Debbie Pickford, construction manager Dean Cleaver, project manager Andy Stowe and project leader Helen Towns. Picture: OX63916 Andrew Walmsley Buy this photo » Cllr Debbie Pickford, construction manager Dean Cleaver, project manager Andy Stowe and project leader Helen Towns. Picture: OX63916 Andrew Walmsley

WORK on the first “self-build” homes in Bicester is to start within weeks, as plans for more properties are announced.

Contractors have started to clear land at Newton Close, Kingsmere, for 21 two- and three-bedroom shared ownership homes.

It is part of Cherwell District Council’s Build! scheme, aimed at helping low-income residents get on the property ladder.

They get a low-interest loan for the deposit and £10,000 of the market price for helping with its construction.

Only people with a household income below £60,000-a-year can apply.

Some 13 people have been backed for a mortgage, though final details have yet to be agreed. They will move in next December.

Training sessions on skills including fitting bathrooms, kitchens and doors will start in January at ACE Training, in Kidlington.

The council has now submitted a planning application for 42 one- and two-bedroom apartments in four blocks at the former council depot in London Road.

Project leader Helen Towns said: “What we are doing is just getting people over the hump and into the home ownership bracket.

“It opens it up for younger people to get on the housing ladder. We have never done it before so it’s a new way of doing things.”

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Council lead member for housing Debbie Pickford said: “It’s another string to our bow.

“Social housing is only going to be for people who need it.”

She said a similar project in Orchard Way, Banbury, had helped new residents build friendships while doing the work.

“By doing this they also get to know each other and build a nice, friendly community in their area.

“These people will also get training in do-it-yourself skills that will last a lifetime. It’s a win-win situation.”

  • For more information, visit cherwell.gov.uk/build Cherwell is going through the legal due-diligence process with the Ministry of Defence over buying Graven Hill, Bicester. A deal would make it the biggest self-build project in the country. The site has outline planning approval for 1,900 homes, shops and a business park.

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