Cherwell’s award-winning Build! project now making big strides

CDC Build! project, Lincoln Close, Banbury. Cllr. John Donaldson on site. NNL-161201-125008009
CDC Build! project, Lincoln Close, Banbury. Cllr. John Donaldson on site. NNL-161201-125008009

The Build! project is not just any other initiatve, but instead relies on the homeowner’s ambition and skills they have.

As news came through that Cherwell District Council has exceeded its five-year land supply, work on the latest developments of its award-winning Build! project is starting to come to an end.

It was almost a year since we took an in-depth look at the scheme which transforms several eyesores and brownfield sites into living accommodation, and since then Calthorpe House on Calthorpe Road is nearing completion, which will provide 15 new homes available on an affordable rent basis.

Since 2014 and 2015 Cherwell District Council has built 250 homes as part of the Build! project at sites in both Bicester and Banbury. As well as Calthorpe Road, other sites are in Broughton Road, Warwick Road, Hope Close, Drapers House, St Leonard’s House in West Street and Spring Walk.

And for 2016 the council has said they hope to create more sites to help more people living in Banbury have their own home.

Councillor John Donaldson, Cherwell’s lead member for housing said: “This has been really positive and everybody has got on board with the whole project. We are just blown away by the impact it has had and the ability of the council to provide lots of properties and the allocation for people, particularly those who are most in need, to get on the property ladder. It has been a superb projectand we will continue to invest in it.”

The work of the Build! project did not go unnoticed, as the team went on to pick up several awards including the Best Council for Self/Custom Builders at the National Build It Awards.

And the project has even been working well in villages outside of Banbury and Bicester, with work recently completed of a twin bungalow in Steeple Aston.

And Mr Donaldson has expressed his delight at the new homes, which will mean more people can have a property to call their own.

He said: “This is a nationally recognised project and grew from a small idea to create a pot of money to invest in something like this. Once we have finished the buildings they are then passed on to housing organisations such as Sanctuary.

“I have spent time at the different Build! sites and the quality of the work is superb. The contractors have been very impressive throughout and one of the key things during it all has been the number of apprenticeships.

“We have seen a lot of youngsters being given the chance to learn new skills and get into employment.”

At a meeting of Cherwell District Council’s executive last Monday, members received the annual monitoring report for 2014/ 2015 and received a comprehensive review of housing land supply as of December 2015. The figures showed that over three consecutive years the council has continued to exceed its five year land supply due to an increase in housing construction and can now demonstrate a 5.1 year supply for 2014-2019; a 5.3 year supply for 2015-2020 and a 5.6 year supply for 2016-2021.

Councillor Michael Gibbard, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said: “This is the first report to be published since the adoption of the Local Plan last summer and it is great that we are not only meeting the five year land supply targets, but exceeding it.

“The security of having a five year land supply means we can continue to protect villages and rural areas from overdevelopment by concentrating housing projects on the edge of existing towns and urban areas.

“This is exactly as is outlined in the Local Plan and exactly how we envisioned the growth of the district when we prepared the Local Plan for adoption.”

The Cherwell Local Plan outlines the preferred sites for 22,840 homes and 200 hectares of employment land between 2011 2031.”

Figures from the annual monitoring report showed 2,052 homes had been completed between 2011 and 2015, of which 946 were built during the 2014/2015.

Of those completed over the past financial year, 44 per cent were built on previously developed land and 191 were marketed as affordable, including 22 self-build homes.

It is expected that between 2015 and 2020, 9,034 new homes will be built and by March 31, 2021, 12,824 homes will have been built across the district over a ten year period. This equates to an approximate average of 1,282 homes per annum which exceeds the annual requirement of the adopted Local Plan 2011-2031.

For more information on the Build! project and how you can apply visit www.cherwell/