IF YOU haven’t watched it already, I would encourage everyone to find the six episodes of Channel 4s ‘The Street’ on catch up.

It gives us a real insight into what is going on in Graven Hill, the 188-hectare site of former MoD land to the south of Bicester, which is the UK (and possibly the world’s) largest self-build project.

Eventually 2,000 custom build homes will be created there.

Kevin McCloud gently comments on the construction process of the first ten builders, demonstrating the positives and the stresses.

It is clear that self-building is over 25per cent cheaper than other forms of new build.

READ AGAIN: Meet the ten self-build stars of TV's Grand Designs

It also makes for better designed and much better build of houses than are created by big developers, whose bottom line will always be the financial one.

The ecological benefits are also demonstrated; self-builders can simply take greater risks and try new products and ideas in a way that big business is reluctant too.

I have always been passionate about self-building.

My husband and I were gripped by Grand Designs when it was first shown twenty years ago. We jumped at the chance to design a house ourselves when a very run down property on a big plot became available in our village.

Even with a Banbury architect, and a village builder, the process was difficult and longer than anticipated, but the benefits of having a house for our needs have been felt by the whole family every day ever since. The views of the Cherwell Valley are breath-taking.

In those days, the planners were resistant to new ideas, but I’m thrilled that Cherwell District Council is now a real leader in this field.

It created Build!, which offers a unique way into the property market, with a range of options available to first-time buyers with a local connection to the area.

For example, the Gardner’s Close development in Bicester includes a number of self-finish flats and apartments for those wanting to get a foot on the property ladder.

With shared ownership options, locals can buy a share of a property and finish it to their own specification.

A member of my staff recently bought a share of a flat and has really enjoyed fitting her own carpets, tiles and shower.

I am keen that we promote good quality housing locally.

Oxford Mail:

Forward thinking initiatives such as Graven Hill and Build! are an asset to our area, giving people of all ages the opportunity to build their dream house, or make their first step onto the property ladder.