My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Build! scheme is a good example of a halfway house before a full self-build, which we all know is quite a commitment to take on. The scheme enables people to self-finish, and brings many of the benefits that my hon. Friend just outlined, possibly without all the pain of a full self-build process.
We have quite a few examples of the Build! project throughout the constituency, but grouping is important, as I will come on to explain, and one great example is in Warwick road in Banbury, where there is a 16-house development on the site of a former care home. In creating the project, we learned that instant community cohesion is a major bonus to grouping self-builds: by the time people move in, they know not just their neighbours but the location and type of their soil pipes. That makes for a diverse but energetic community who look out for each other right from the beginning. It is quite extraordinary, and it is one of the very real benefits of grouping self-builds, even in quite small developments, such as blocks of flats.
Another example is in a large building in a car park in Banbury town centre. People in flats next-door to each other look out for each other. They carry each other’s heavy pipes in for installation and help each other with other elements of building. It really makes a difference to how they go forward together as a community.
One of my newest town councillors has just bought a one-bedroom Build! flat near Bicester Village station. She told me:
“Without Build! and the support of CDC”—
“I would have really struggled to get on the property ladder. At 24, with a single income, I’m not very attractive to mortgage lenders. I bought a share in a self-finish flat. I pay a mortgage and a minimal amount of rent, and hope to work up to 100% ownership in a few years.”
“This scheme has allowed me to finish my first property to my own specification. It was a bit of a shock to learn my doors wouldn’t fit over the new carpets and needed to be cut down. I’m in the process of tiling my bathroom, which has been a learning experience. It hasn’t been plain sailing but it will be an experience I’ll treasure.”
That is somebody with, to put it politely, no self-build skills. She is a young woman doing it on her own aged 24. That is really commendable. It has enabled her to have a cheaper property finished to her own spec, and it has given her the confidence to get on to the property ladder. It is exactly the sort of scheme that we should roll out nationally.