Graven Hill

Bicester, UK

Richard Evans, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Richard Evans

Enabling the self-build dream.

The UK has one of the lowest rates of self-building compared with
other European countries, with self-built homes making up less than
10 percent of new housing. Graven Hill aims to show how this can change. Led by Cherwell District Council and situated in Bicester, the Graven Hill scheme is an innovative new residential project. A massive site on which people can build their own homes, it’s making the self-build dream possible for people who wouldn’t usually be able to consider
it as an option.

Passive principles.

As the largest of its kind in the UK, the development will host 1,950
self-build dwellings, along with local amenities like shops and schools. The development originally had outline planning consent with a requirement for Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5, but our work convinced the planners that a passive design approach (using Passivhaus standards as a guiding principle) would be a more viable option for self-build homes.

Simple guidance.

We tested several plots against the Passivhaus criteria, and used the results of this testing to develop a set of bespoke Passive Design Standards along with the developer and Cherwell District Council. Acknowledging that the development is for self-builders who would
need further guidance on how to achieve these bespoke targets, we
were subsequently appointed to produce more detailed Passive Design Guidelines. This easily digestible information set out design advice and good practice guidance for energy efficient house building, in a format that was accessible to the non-technical reader.


Key Figures
1,950 self-build dwellings
190 hectares