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Case Study

Love Wolverton

Summary

Love Wolverton is a regeneration scheme for the site of the Agora Centre and car park in the town centre of Wolverton, Milton Keynes. It comprises 115 dwellings, of which 86 are for market and affordable rent and 29 are within an over-50’s cohousing community called Still Green; plus 900m2 of small-scale retail space and 100m2 community space.

The project reinstates the former street grid lost under the Agora and provides new car-free streets, a pocket park and a sustainability mobility hub and incorporates a renewable energy microgrid. The project obtained planning permission in August 2021 and will commence construction in summer 2022.

The project, which was submitted for planning at the end of 2020 by TOWN working with architects Mikhail Riches and Mole and landscape architects URBED, was recognised in July with a prestigious Festival of Place / Design Council award for the UK’s best ‘future place’.

Key information

  • Client: TOWN/Milton Keynes Council
  • Developer: TOWN
  • Architects: Mikhail Riches Architects
  • Location: Wolverton
  • Engineers/consultants: JGC Engineering – MEP, Whitby Wood – structures/civils, Astute – Fire
  • Project type: New-build on brownfield site
  • Number of homes: 115, and 1,000m² of retail
  • Sector: Social housing 
  • Key dates: Expected start Summer 2022; completion Summer 2024

Key facts/highlights

  • 15 low-energy homes including 86 for market and affordable rent which will be owned by the Council, and a 29-home over-50s cohousing community for Still Green Cohousing
  • New small independent shops to grow and reinforce Wolverton’s high street offer
  • Extensive public realm, car-free streets, shared courtyard gardens and a public pocket park, providing new places for socialising and children’s play including the reinstatement of Radcliffe Street to reconnect Church Street and the Square
  • A low-carbon mobility hub including improved bus stop, bike-hire schemes and electric car club
  • A renewable energy ‘microgrid’ which will generate around two-thirds of the scheme’s energy needs on-site and contribute to a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with building regulations

Energy performance

  • CESCo-operated PV and battery microgrid providing 67% of annual energy requirements on site
  • MVHR for all dwellings
  • ASHP for heating

Materials and construction

  • Cohousing block to be constructed from CLT
  • Fabric standards higher than Part L of the building regulations
  • Dense terraced layout for high form factor
  • 98% of dwellings are dual or triple aspect 

EV charging

There will be both an EV car club and bike hire schemes. 

Access to green space and amenities

As well as the extensive public realm and pocket park  created within the scheme, this new city centre development is surrounded by amenities including shops, restaurants etc. The location also offers fantastic transport links and is less than 10 minutes walk from Wolverton train station.

Western road recreation ground is a short walk away with the beautiful Ouse Valley park within easy reach.

Quotes

Neil Murphy, Director, Town

“Planning permission is a vital milestone in any project. Here, it’s the culmination of years of co-operative work between council officers and elected members, our team and above all the Wolverton community who have campaigned tirelessly to have the Agora replaced by a development worthy of the town. Reconciling the constraints of the site with demanding policy and community expectations of design, conservation, sustainability and affordability was a huge challenge but with planning achieved and the Council’s investment in place we’re looking forward to working with partners to make it reality”

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Case Study

Woodlands Edge

Summary

Woodlands Edge is a development of 30 homes 5 miles outside of Lincoln city centre, designed and built by Gusto Homes who have specialised in eco-housing since 1990.

Woodlands Edge incorporates three different construction methods all designed with a high fabric efficiency and Passivhaus principles in mind, with the performance of each typology monitored through resident feedback. The all-electric homes make use of low carbon technologies including MVHR and PV panels. The 18 units that make up the ‘Edge’ create more energy than they use with both SAP and Environmental Impact ratings over 100.

Community spirit is at the heart of the scheme with each unit having its own allotment, alongside communal facilities including a tennis court and pond. 

Key information

  • Client: Gusto Homes
  • Developer: Gusto Homes
  • Architect/Designer: SGA Architects
  • Location: Lincoln
  • Engineers/consultants: MES
  • Project Type: New build
  • Number of homes: 30
  • Sector: Private Housing
  • Key dates: Completed 2019

Key facts/highlights

  • Woodlands Edge houses create more energy than they use
  • Excellent SAP and environmental impact ratings
  • Infrared heating
  • Solar roof structure
  • Immersun power diverter for hot water heating
  • Wastewater heat recovery
  • Heat recovery ventilation system
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Emphasis on community living

Energy performance

SAP and Environmental Impact Rating assessment and airtightness test have been carried out by Midland Energy Services.

Energy performance figures below pertain to Woodlands Edge area of the development. Bungalows and stand-alone houses vary but within a high-performance range.

  • Energy Use Intensity (EUI): -5 kWh/m²/yr
  • SAP Rating: A (101) with a potential for 108 with the upgrade of recommended solar water heating
  • Environmental Impact Rating: Grade A (101)
  • PV panels (MCS certificate):
    • Declared net capacity 3.68 kWh
    • estimated annual generation: 3876 kWh
    • Total installed capacity:  4.00 kWp
  • Dwelling Fabric Energy Efficiency target (DFEE): 32 kWh/m²K
  • Dwelling Emission Rate target (DER): -5.79 kgCO2/m²/yr (Net Zero Carbon)
  • U values:
    • Walls – 0.11 W/m²K
    • Roof – 0.10 W/m²K
    • Floor – 0.11  W/m²K
    • Glazing – 0.11 W/m²K
  • Air tightness: 9 m³/h/m² @50Pa (as tested)
  • Monitoring being undertaken by MES Building Solutions 

Whole life carbon/resource efficiency

  • BS EN 1578 Assessment of Environmental Performance
  • There is a communal rainwater harvesting system, with individual header tanks to each property, providing water for toilet flushing, clothes washing and outside use

Materials and construction

  • 3 construction methods
    • ICF (insulated concrete framework) for the first 18 houses
    • Timber frame for the two-bedroom houses.
    • 4/5 bedroom houses are blockwork with 200mm cavity
  • ICF was found to have a better performance.
  • Build cost – £1,184m² (2016) including low carbon technologies

EV charging

All properties are pre-wired with a 32-amp supply and socket on driveways.

Thermal comfort and resilience

  • Properties have shading designed into South elevations
  • Minimal glazing to west elevation
  • Heat recovery ventilation systems – summer bypass

Access to green space and amenities

The management company is resident-owned, resulting in householders having a direct sense of ownership for the 10 acres of communal land including tennis court and allotments.

Biodiversity

  • The land was previously overspill car parking for the Lincoln showground
  • Creation of 3 large ponds via SuDS system
  • Tree and hedgerow management in place

Community and social support

  • The layout of the development is designed to create natural meeting spaces for residents
  • A terrace house design creates meeting points at the entry /exit of homes
  • Allotments available for all residents. Approx. 80% of residents have taken up an allotment. 
  • Social committee for the site
  • Quarterly resident meetings
  • Communal store for landscaping i.e., lawnmowers, rotovator
  • Lowered garden fences for neighbour interaction

Accessibility standards

  • Meets Building Regulation part M
  • Ground floor bedroom/study to comply with lifetime homes
  • Exceeds national space standards

Quotes

Woodlands Edge resident:

“I was one of the first residents to move into the Woodlands Edge development and have watched it come to life as more residents have moved in and interacted with the management of the site. It is a different way of living. Making sure we do our part for the planet by moving into an eco-home and altering our lifestyle to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Managing Director, Gusto Group:

“Woodlands Edge is a one-of-a-kind development showcasing the latest eco technology at the time. The site now fully occupied has a great community who are passionate about the environment and are willing to help one another. Each resident has access to a communal store offering various gardening equipment to reduce the need to purchase individual items. One of the aims of the site was to reduce individuals carbon footprint and deliver a showcase development.” 

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