New tenants near Sleaford are preparing to reap the benefits of living in Lincolnshire’s first highly energy-efficient ‘Passivhaus’ council homes.
Within North Kesteven District Council’s latest development of 22 affordable council houses in Heckington on Welchman Way, off Kyme Road. Two are designed with enhanced insulation, heat retention and draught proofing to require minimal heating.
These two Passivhauses are still rare bringing the total number built in the UK to 100. They are unusual not only in being council houses but also having been built of brick and block as most Passivhauses are timber frame or subterranean.
All of the houses in the new development are built to the council’s standards which exceed national requirements, with two meeting the rigorous ‘Passivhaus’ standard which makes them cheaper and easier to live in, warmer in winter, cooler in summer and super efficient.
Although around 15 per cent more expensive to build, Passivhauses are significantly cheaper to run – generally requiring about 75 per cent less heating than standard-build and contributing to reduced carbon outputs.
Great care is taken in the quality of materials, insulation levels, design and construction so that they are highly draught-proofed and require very little heating over and above the passive heat from the environment: sun, in-house appliances and occupants.
They were officially opened on Monday by Deputy Leader of NKDC Coun Mike Gallagher and Coun Stewart Ogden, local ward member and NKDC Executive Board Member with responsibility for housing. It comes less than a year after the turf was cut at the Kyme Road site to begin construction.
“Our council is the first in the area – and one of just a handful nationwide – to build social housing to the rigorous Passivhaus standard and we are very proud to be taking the lead yet again,” said Coun Ogden.
“This £2.4m scheme represents a further investment by the council in increasing access to improved housing, and makes a significant contribution to meeting an identified need for affordable housing in Heckington.
“It fits with the council’s commitment to build to its own adopted quality standard, Fabric First Plus, which exceeds the requirements of building regulations for insulation, space and durability and brings to 175 the number of additional council houses built by NKDC over the last seven years.”
He added: “We always seek to make our properties right for the district and right for our tenants, building for the future and responding to need.
“Including eight much-needed flats, all of these homes will be allocated to people with a local connection to North Kesteven and I wish everyone preparing to move in all the best with their new beginnings,” he said.
Vince King is one of the first tenants taking up one of the much-needed flats, which allows him to return to the district to be close to his six grandchildren following a relationship break-up and the loss of his former home.
For years he lived in Ruskington but most recently had been forced to stay in London where he was unable to support his family.
“The standard of these houses is unbelievable. I have been a builder for most of my life and I know that the workmanship here is top notch,” he said.
“I feel so fortunate to have got a house at all, but to have got one of these new ones on the ground floor which is perfect for my mobility issues, and to be so local to be able to help my daughter is wonderful. I’ve had a really bad year one way or another and this is the final part of getting my life back together,” said Vince.
The development is named Welchman Way in honour of one of Heckington’s First World War heroes who died in France in October 1914. This is in keeping with a local tradition of taking names for new streets from the village war memorial.
It was built by Lindum BMS. Lindum Group chairman David Chambers said: “Of particular note are the two properties built to the high energy efficient ‘Passivhaus’ standard. Although a first in North Kesteven, Lindum has built homes achieving this accreditation elsewhere in the East Midlands and were glad to contribute this knowledge to the partnership responsible for delivering these new houses.”
The other 20 houses built are highly-efficient too. Over and above the long-standing thermal efficiency, triple glazing, highly efficient Band A condensing gas boilers and air source heat pump technology, the NK Fabric First Plus approach requires an improvement of up to five per cent on building regulation standards for thermal efficiency.
Passivhauses originate in northern Europe and are a standard of build, not a construction type, with the key being in the details, the quality of the materials and tight-fitting joints; reducing air loss and increasing thermal efficiency which reduces energy use.
This brings annual running costs down from around £663 for a regular house to £177 for a Passivhaus.
While some housing associations have built to this standard, NK has pioneered a unique lead within Lincolnshire and join very few local authorities moving the initiative forward including Exeter, Norwich, Bristol and Crawley.