Work starts on first UK eco town
Construction work has started on the UK’s first official eco town. Housing provider A2Dominion, has started preparing the controversial site in Bicester, Oxfordshire.
The first phase of development, known as the Exemplar, will see the construction of 393 highly energy efficient, zero carbon homes, creating the UK’s first true zero carbon community. The whole development will ultimately deliver up to 6,000 sustainable homes.
The developer’s group chief commercial officer and deputy group chief executive, John Knevett, said: “We are proud to be at the forefront of the country’s first eco town. North West Bicester will be an example to future developments in establishing sustainable new communities in the UK.
“We will create an outstanding living environment, which will provide exceptional quality of life for residents, without compromising the needs of our future generations.”
The Exemplar will include a primary school, community centre, eco pub and an eco-business and retail centre.
The unique core elements of the development are:
• It is the only eco development in the UK that continues to adhere to the strict planning policy statements originally set out by the government for the delivery of eco towns.
• As well as being true zero carbon, all homes will be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5, incorporating triple glazing, rainwater harvesting and water recycling. They have been designed to cope with climate change peaks of up to 10 degrees Celsius ensuring they remain warmer in winter but do not overheat during the summer.
• There will be dramatic reductions in waste, including zero waste to landfill during construction. Only the London 2012 Olympics construction has achieved this.
• The development will retain 40% green space including community allotments to encourage outdoor lifestyles and nurture wildlife and biodiversity. Natural landscaping will be used to create safe play areas.
• Electricity will be generated from PV solar panels on every home (averaging 34m2 per property), making this the UK’s largest residential solar array capable of generating enough power to supply 550 homes.
• Heat and hot water will come from a combined heat and power plant (CHP). Excess electricity generated by the CHP will be exported back to the national grid.
• With specially designed cycle and pedestrian routes, a bus service within 400m of every home with live timetable updates in each house, charging points for electric vehicles and an electric car club, residents will be encouraged to adopt more sustainable modes of travel.
Steve Hornblow, NW Bicester project director, said: “NW Bicester is about enabling people to live modern-day lifestyles but with traditional values. We want the Exemplar to become a vibrant and resilient community where people know their neighbours. We’ve designed community space to incorporate communal barbecue areas, herb boxes and seating with features to encourage children to play safely in the street.
“We want to approach sustainable living realistically, providing people with the tools to benefit from a real community environment, reduced home running costs and access to the latest green technologies.”