We are delighted to let you know that the full planning application for the Community Led Homes was completed and submitted on time at the end of January. It was a gigantic effort, with all members of the team working at capacity, and we expect to hear back from CDC planning department at the beginning of May. It’s so exciting to see the planning notices appear on lampposts around the village.

We held a very well attended, all-day, village-wide consultation at the Memorial Hall at the end of January, for the community to view the plans and scale model of the homes and site. Many people came, some out of curiosity, some who are hoping to live there and several neighbours whose houses back onto the site. Board members of HNCLT were on hand to discuss issues, and Charlie Luxton Design were present to answer questions about the design of the homes and the popular community building.

Several people commented that they were unsure of the exact location of the site (just south east of the tennis courts), as it is hidden by trees and has been ignored for years, but we have recently had the land cleared so it is now much easier to find and get a feel for how the houses and landscaping will look.

Although the site was overgrown, it does have some wildlife qualities that we were anxious to preserve. The hedges are a haven for birds and there is an abundance of snowdrops at this time of year, so we had the site cleared early to avoid disruption to the bird nesting season. I’m really pleased to report that the Incredible Edible team lifted clusters of the snowdrops on one of the few dry days in February, so that they can be replanted back there when the project is completed. They are temporarily living in tubs until the time comes.

There will be 12 homes, comprising one, two and three-bedrooms, built to ‘Passivhaus’ standards, around a community building. They will have renewable energy features such as a solar PV array on the roof, in order to be energy efficient and reduce energy bills. The Low Carbon Hub have started working out the details of the micro grid and how that will be run.

Tim Lunel is putting final touches to the business case, and we will be launching a community share-offer later in the spring, once the details are complete. We are also developing our Allocations Policy, alongside Cherwell District Council, to ensure that the homes remain affordable in perpetuity, and that each resident has a strong local connection to Hooky.

We will soon be moving to our own web site, and are commissioning a web site designer and logo designer to help us reach that point. All of our policies, the housing designs and application forms will be included there.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the project and encouraged us, and to everyone who has expressed interest in living there. There is a lot of interest in our progress from other Community Land Trusts. Please contact me if you would like more information – catherine.ryan@hn-lc.org.uk