Ed Vaizey, former culture minister and MP for Wantage, joined local housing and low carbon building experts last week to celebrate the opening of one of Britain’s most sustainable communities, in Longcot, Oxfordshire.
Kings Farm Close is a new development of 15 eco-homes, including six affordable homes built to the same high performance standards in one of the most expensive areas of the UK.
The affordable homes will include three two-bedroom homes and one three-bedroom home, let to tenants at below-market rates by Sovereign Housing Association, and two shared ownership homes reserved for local people who want to get onto the property ladder for the first time. Nine further homes, a mixture of detached and semi-detached, will also be coming up for sale in summer 2019.
Thanks to an innovative offsite construction system that uses natural materials, all of the homes have near-zero carbon footprints and will benefit from very low energy bills. The One Planet Living framework used to develop Kings Farm Close also means that residents will be encouraged to manage their community to high environmental standards.
Ed Vaizey MP said:
“The vast majority of new-build homes in the UK are of bland design, poor build quality and lack basic sustainability credentials. Much of this is to do with national housebuilders refusing to embrace new technologies and construction methods.
“The Kings Farm Close development, however, is a shining example of forward-thinking, modern housebuilding from a team of people who are clearly very committed to bringing sustainable living to everyone – whether you own, part-own or rent your home.”
Each property at Kings Farm Close was prefabricated by Oxfordshire housebuilder Greencore Construction, before being transported to site and assembled by the firm’s build team.
Ian Pritchett, managing director at Greencore Construction, said:
“Greencore has been promoting the use of offsite construction for some time, and we build all our homes in our local factory using natural materials with low embodied carbon. Working in this way means our homes can be completed very quickly and to exceptionally high standards of quality control, all the while having a much lower impact on the environment.”
Developer Oxford Advanced Living also aims to enhance the variety of animal and wildflower species on the land in and around Kings Farm Close. A fifth of the site’s total area will be shared green space, planted and managed with native trees to support wildlife under a biodiversity plan.
Martin Pike, director of Oxford Advanced Living, said:
“This project has allowed us to put into practice all our ideas and determination to create a genuinely sustainable community in Oxfordshire, where the same high performance standards are available to everyone, regardless of whether you’re renting or buying a home. We believe that all the residents will be able to enjoy greener and healthier lifestyles at Kings Farm Close, and we look forward to their feedback to help us with future projects.”
Alex Brooks, development manager at Sovereign, said:
“These new affordable homes will not only be great places to live, they’ll also be good for the environment as well as keeping energy bills low for residents.
“It’s really important that we build homes and invest in communities that are fit for the future, so it’s been great to work with Oxford Advanced Living and Greencore Construction and we look forward to the new residents making these houses a home.”
In October 2018, Kings Farm Close was recognised by sustainability charity Bioregional for its national leadership in implementing One Planet Living, a comprehensive framework for planning, building and managing greener communities.
Kings Farm Close has multiple ways in which more environmentally sustainable living is made possible, including:
- Construction of the homes using timber panels for the walls containing a thick insulation layer made from Yorkshire-grown hemp mixed with lime. Using these panels for construction radically reduces emissions of climate-changing carbon dioxide compared to conventional brick and concrete block walls – these panels lock up carbon within the homes.
- The panels are manufactured offsite in Greencore’s own factory in Worminghall near Oxford, benefitting the local economy.
- The high levels of insulation cut the demand for heating, reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
- Using natural materials, combined with a ventilation system which recovers heat, helps to improve indoor air quality while cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions still further.
- A management company will be created to look after the shared parts of the development including the green spaces after the homes are completed. This company will be run by the residents and they will be encouraged to continue implementing the One Planet Action Plan, and to regularly review their progress.
Nicole Lazarus, head of Bioregional Oxfordshire, said:
“The Kings Farm Close team richly deserve recognition for their leadership in creating the kind of sustainable new housing we need so badly. We particularly love the natural materials used in the build system and the high-quality indoor environment that they make possible.”
Greencore Construction was set up in 2013 and is best known for its work helping developers, land owners and self-builders to build high performance, low carbon buildings using natural materials, including hemp, lime and timber. Greencore combines a strong scientific approach with its design and construction of beautiful homes with a social conscience. Its team has been involved in specialist building projects for more than 25 years, and is one of the world’s leading authorities on hemp-lime construction.