FAMILIES on the housing waiting list in Cherwell will be given the chance to build their own home, under an innovative new project.

Cherwell District Council is set to net more than £2 million of Government cash to kick-start the scheme.

Called Build! it is hoped the project will help some of the 4,000 people on the council’s housing waiting list as well as those who cannot afford to buy a home.

Schemes could include anything from a full self-build, where plots with outline planning permission are sold on the open market, to fitting the interior of a water-tight shell or refurbishing empty properties.

The idea is to encourage single people or families to use their own skills to build their home or gain skills through training sessions.

Cherwell’s lead member for housing Debbie Pickford said: “This is a really exciting, groundbreaking programme “It is a work in progress but we are really committed to finding housing solutions.

“We are taking a long-term view of this, it is not a one-off project.”

She said it is likely the first phase of the project would see more people with construction skills taking on the first units.

Miss Pickford said: “We do want to make this pretty open, but we also have to be realistic about it.

“The idea is to help lots of different people with different skills, and other people may get skills out of it.

“We will look for land, we will find empty places and get planning, and then decide what scheme to put there.”

Plans are being drawn up for the first Bicester site at new estate Kingsmere, off Oxford and Middleton Stoney roads, where land for 21 properties has been set aside. It is proposed a contractor will build the properties to a water-tight shell and then 21 people will get the chance to fit the interior. Seven will be shared ownership and 14 will be rental properties.

For details, email Build@ cherwell-dc.gov.uk Separately, the council is helping to set up the Cherwell Community Land Trust, a charitable industrial and provident society. It may take on some of the social housing development. It is different to a housing association as it works much more locally and can own other assets such as shops, community centres or work space, as long as it is of benefit to the community.

The aim in Cherwell is to create a legacy of assets which are affordable and will benefit future generations.