Case Study

Woodstock North


Pollard Thomas Edwards was appointed by Blenheim Estates to create a masterplan for 430 new homes over two sites in Oxfordshire and will also provide sustainable design consultancy for the homes. The homes will be seeking Passivhaus certification and are aiming for Net Zero carbon in operation.

Low carbon technologies will be implemented to help achieve the ambitious targets, including Air Source Heat Pumps, thermal store and PV solar panels for each home. PTE undertook a full architectural and sustainable design service of Passivhaus design, overheating assessments and BRE daylight and sunlight assessments.

The masterplan centres on the public realm, removing cars by providing innovative parking barns with EV charging, with a focus on bike and foot travel as well as providing large shared outdoor spaces for residents.

Key information

  • Client: Blenheim Estates
  • Developer: Blenheim Estates
  • Architects: Pollard Thomas Edwards
  • Location: Oxfordshire
  • Engineers/consultants: Pollard Thomas Edwards
  • Contractor: Pye Homes
  • Project type: New-build
  • Number of homes: 430
  • Sector: Private housing
  • Key dates: 2020-current

Key facts/highlights

  • Certified Passivhaus
  • Net zero carbon in operation
  • Targeting all environmental and health metrics in the RIBA 2030 challenge
  • Low embodied carbon – calculated as 360 kgCO²e/m²
  • Extensive green areas for play and community use, food growing and SuDS
  • Innovative parking barns
  • Car-free streets with a focus on pedestrian and cycle usage

Energy performance

  • Energy Use Intensity (EUI) target: 70kWh/m²/yr (RIBA 2025)
  • Space heating demand target: 15kWh/m²/yr (Passivhaus)
  • Air source heat pump installation of better than 3CoP
  • U values
    • Wall – 0.1 W/m²K
    • Roof – 0.1 W/m²K
    • Floor – 0.115 W/m²K
  • Windows: U – 0.85 W/m²K on average, G – 0.5
  • Air tightness: 0.6 m³/h/m² @50Pa
  • PV of sufficient size to achieve net zero operational net zero carbon (circa 3kWp per home)

It is being proposed to monitor energy use and carbon in 10% of homes and engage with a University partner to help with the dissemination. 

Whole life carbon/resource efficiency

  • Embodied carbon target: 625 kgCO²e/m²
  • Low flow fixtures and fitting
  • Water butts for rainwater harvesting
  • Use of SuDS
Embodied carbon has been measured with the LCA OneClick tool, using the RICS methodology and EN 15978 (Sustainability of construction works – Assessment of environmental performance of buildings).

EV charging

EV charging will be available for all parking spaces in the parking barns, supplied from rooftop PV solar panels. 

Thermal comfort and resilience

  • Passivhaus PHPP overheating checks
  • CIBSE TM59 design methodology for the avoidance of overheating in homes

Access to green space and amenities

Woodstock North features innovative parking barns that remove cars from the landscape. The barns will provide high-quality flexible space, which can be converted to other community or business uses as the town’s needs change.

Each parking barn has 44 car parking spaces with EV charging including 3 wheelchair spaces and additional e-bike charging and hire spaces. The 1062m² timber structures are open-sided and lined with green walls, including a 60m² community hub and foyer for local resident use.

The creation of these parking barns allows space for an extensive landscape proposal that will include a network of green infrastructure with a mix of formal and informal open spaces. Throughout this, there will be a series of amenities.

  • Flexible civic space within the parking barns for community events
  • A series of enclosed garden rooms, with inspiration taken from the designed landscapes at Blenheim Palace
  • Linear park with native planting and evergreens
  • Cycleway connecting A44 and that deviates from the primary street, weaving through the linear park
  • Community gardens which provide car-free links between the wider landscape
  • Growing gardens will offer residents and the wider community opportunity to tend their own garden areas including fruit and vegetables
  • Equipped play area and play trail, ‘hidden’ in the landscape 


Kaye Stout, Partner, Pollard Thomas Edwards

“PTE creates homes and places which tap into a more profound understanding of context and history, while providing contemporary solutions which suit modern aspirations. We are delighted to have been invited by Blenheim Estates to work in the beautiful village of Woodstock.’’

Further information and images

Case study kindly funded by MCS Charitable Foundation

Case Study

Fen Road and Ditton Fields


Pollard Thomas Edwards has developed designs for Cambridge Investment Partnership to build 18 Passivhaus certified homes that are targeting net zero. These are spread across two small sites located within the city’s suburban fringe and both sites will be 100% affordable rent. 

To optimise the designs, a range of flexible typologies were required, which have given a mix of 2 and 3-bed family homes including 2 homes specifically designed for wheelchair users. The designs use offsite timber frame construction and a kit of parts approach, resulting in the intelligent replication of components across each development.

Key information

  • Client: Cambridge Investment Partnership
  • Developer: Cambridge Investment Partnership
  • Architects: Pollard Thomas Edwards
  • Location: Cambridge
  • Engineers/consultants: Pollard Thomas Edwards (sustainability), WARM (Passivhaus certifiers)
  • Project type: New-build
  • Number of homes: 18
  • Sector: Social housing 
  • Key dates: 2020 planning application, completion 2022

Key facts/highlights

  • The projects are the first part of a pilot of Passivhaus low-carbon homes by the city
  • These have helped the council to build up confidence in delivering Passivhaus, which has now become a city-wide commitment for all new council housing
  • The homes will employ a range of low carbon and renewable technologies to target the net zero standard on-site
  • Pollard Thomas Edwards is currently providing architectural, sustainability and Passivhaus design services to RIBA planning stage 3

Energy performance

  • Energy Use Intensity (EUI) target: 35 kWh/m²/yr (RIBA 2030)
  • Space heating demand: 15 kWh/m²/yr (Passivhaus)
  • Air tightness: 0.6 m³/h/m² @50Pa
  • U values: (Passivhaus classic)
    • Roof – 0.1 W/m²K
    • Floor – 0.115 W/m²K
    • Walls – 0.1 W/m²K
  • Windows: U-0.85 W/m²K average, G-0.5
  • Air source heat pump > 3CoP
  • PV solar panels for electricity with additional thermal storage
  • WWHR (wastewater heat recovery)

Whole life carbon/resource efficiency

  • Embodied carbon target: 625kgCO²e/m² (RIBA 2030)
  • Responsibly sourced timber for timber frame panels (off-site construction)
  • Recycled newspaper insulation
  • Low flow fittings and fixtures – >100 l/p/d

Materials and construction

The construction method is pre-fabricated timber panels. 

EV charging

EV charging is provided for both sites. 

Thermal comfort and resilience

Use of CIBSE TM59, Design methodology for the assessment of overheating risk in homes.

Access to green space and amenities

All homes have a private garden and the developments are within a suburban area with services nearby. 


Both projects retain existing mature trees and will provide a biodiversity uplift of 20%.

Safety and security

The scheme complies with secured by design.


Tom Hill, Regional Director, Hill

“The aim of this pilot scheme is to allow us to explore the delivery of cost efficient low carbon housing for the future in terms of up-front building costs, ongoing maintenance costs for as the council and low bills for residents.”

Mike Todd-Jones, Executive Councillor for Housing at the Cambridhe Council and CIP board member

“These homes will be delivered to a very high standards of environmental sustainability in and will also contribute towards our goal to be a zero net carbon council in the coming years.”


Case study kindly funded by MCS Charitable Foundation


How to achieve net zero carbon homes

Funded through the Local Government Association (LGA) Housing Advisers Programme, the guide has been produced by leading technical experts from Etude, the Passivhaus Trust, Levitt Bernstein and Elementa Consulting.

Who is the Toolkit for?

Pulling on latest guidance and best practice, the Net Zero Carbon Toolkit is a practical, easy to follow guide to help plan a net zero housing project.

Aimed at small or medium-sized house builders, architects, self-builders and consultants, the toolkit covers a range of steps – from pre-planning right through to construction – for delivering net-zero carbon, low-energy homes.

The toolkit also provides homeowners looking to retrofit or extend their existing property, guidance and advice on what they need to consider and how they can implement energy efficiency measures and begin the process of decarbonising their homes in a more affordable, phased approach.

Implementing the measures laid out in the new toolkit will help reduce the carbon footprint of new and existing buildings. Making significant reductions to a home’s carbon emissions also means lower energy bills for homeowners, more people out of fuel poverty and homes that are comfortable and healthier to live in.

How can others use the Toolkit?

West Oxfordshire District Council and its two partner councils share an ambition that net zero should be the standard for all new housing and retrofit projects in their districts.

Achieving the UK’s legally binding net zero target is no small task and it is acknowledged that reaching this goal requires organisations to work together, share experiences and build on best practice.

To help others reach net zero and to speed up the UK’s collective response to the climate emergency, the Net Zero Carbon Toolkit is openly available as a resource for private and public sector organisations to use and adopt. Further information about how the toolkit may be used is listed on page 2 of the document. 

Authors: Etude, Passivhaus TrustLevitt Bernstein and Elementa Consulting.

Publication date: July 2021



Easi Guide to Passivhaus design

Levitt Bernstein, alongside sustainability engineers Etude, have campaigned tirelessly for faster change in the built environment to achieve zero carbon. But they have found that often the best way to effect change is to collaborate with others, lead by example and share learning along the way.

They believe that the first step to zero carbon is to create an ultra-efficient building design. Through their project work with Etude, they have discovered that the benefits of low energy design can be unlocked by viewing Passivhaus considerations as an opportunity, rather than a constraint.

This led them to develop the ‘Easi Guide to Passivhaus design’, which has been endorsed by the Passivhaus Trust.

The guide graphically sets out ten simple principles that form the foundations of good Passivhaus and zero carbon design. They encourage clients to use it to set their briefs and architects to use it when designing their buildings. The main body of the guide emphasises key considerations at RIBA Stage 2 to allow design teams to meet Passivhaus within the contextual needs of their site, while a checklist offers the next steps if full certification is to be pursued.

By providing open access, they hope that you enjoy our guide, make many zero carbon buildings and share your learning with others.

Author: Etude/Levitt Bernstein

Publication date: June 2020


Case Study

Camden Passivhaus

Camden Passivhaus incorporates heat recovery ventilation, extremely good insulation and air-tightness, and high performance glazing to create comfortable and healthy conditions, and minimise energy requirements.

The project reported here is part of the Technology Strategy Board’s Building Performance Evaluation programme and acknowledgement is made of the financial support provided by that programme. Specific results and their interpretation remain the responsibility of the project team.

Author: Good Homes Alliance, Bere Architects, Jason Palmer, UCL, Alan Clarke

Publication date: 2014



Photo credits: Tim Crocker