New ultra low energy council homes let in Mansfield

Tenants are starting to move in to Mansfield’s first ultra-low energy council homes. Construction of the four two-bedroom semi-detached houses in Saundby Avenue was completed this month and they were officially handed over to Executive Mayor Andy Abrahams on behalf of Mansfield District Council when he visited the site on 3 May to meet representatives from the contractor, local construction company Robert Woodhead Ltd.

Within days, four tenants chosen from dozens who applied via the council’s Homefinder service, learned that their bids had been successful.

They included Carrie and Daymun Green and their new baby son, Leo, born two days before they were offered one of the tenancies, and who moved into their new dream forever home yesterday (15 May).

In line with the council’s Green agenda and commitment to lowering carbon emissions, the new homes are set to become amongst only 170 Passivhaus certified homes in the UK and the first of their kind in Mansfield.

In addition, the new houses are Lifetime Homes compliant which means they are future-proofed for changing needs of occupants.

Using meticulous attention to detail and following principles developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany, the four homes have a low carbon footprint and use little energy for heating or cooling.

The council’s in-house Design Services team designed the homes and worked with a local consultant who modelled the council’s design using software that calculates energy use and carbon dioxide emissions to verify the sustainability of the design.

The properties have high levels of insulation, extremely high performance triple glazed windows with insulated frames, plus a mechanical ventilation system along with a highly efficient heat recovery system.

These measures reduce the heat loss so much that the homes barely need any central heating, meaning low energy bills for the tenants.

Passive heat sources, including the sun, human occupants and household appliances, help to provide sources of heating which are then recovered through the property’s heat recovery system.

The cost of building the homes was £659,000 which equates to an uplift of 25% on homes constructed to meet current minimum Building Regulations.

Mayor Andy said: “This has been a really exciting and significant project by providing much needed two-bedroom affordable homes for rent while also putting the environment as a key consideration. The new tenants of these homes will be moving into houses of the highest specification and with very low bills for energy consumption. These kinds of homes are the future if we want to be serious about tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions to a sustainable level by 2040. Another key part of this scheme was to add social value through the procurement process. This meant that most of work was done by local companies and supply chains and that the scheme offered training opportunities to local students.”

The Passivhaus scheme was one of the first projects to benefit from the council’s new procurement policy, which puts a greater emphasis on social, environmental and economic factors.

The project was procured through EEM, a not-for-profit procurement consortium which aims to deliver best value for the public sector.

As part of the contract with Robert Woodhead Ltd, the project created local training and employment opportunities, supported local supply chain companies, involved schoolchildren and community organisations, off-set carbon emissions through the planting of trees and by recycling a high percentage of the construction waste.

The company engaged with three education providers and delivered careers talks to over 700 students.

It has also supported three work experience students on the site, from Vision West Nottinghamshire College, and had two trainees working on the project, including one funded by the Government’s Kickstart scheme which aims to create new jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

Woodhead has calculated that for every £1 spend on the project, it returned £2.84 to the local economy, and 87% of the spend was within 20 miles of the site.

Tom Woodhead, Business Services Director for Robert Woodhead Ltd, said:  “On behalf of Woodhead Construction, I was delighted to hand over our fantastic development on Saundby Avenue which has been designed to achieve Passivhaus standard. It has been great working with the council to create these sustainable homes which are highly energy efficient and will be affordable for the tenants to run. We’re passionate about working with forward-thinking clients, like Mansfield District Council, who are looking at innovative ways to improve affordable housing, and we hope to be able to deliver more homes like this in the future.”

The homes in Saundby Avenue are owned and managed by the council and were built as part of a major programme of new council homes in the district.

In 2019, the authority agreed a £51.9m council house building programme. It includes 10 energy efficient homes completed last year in Rosemary Avenue, 77 new homes planned in an expansion of the acclaimed Centenary Road scheme at the Poppy Fields development for older people, 22 family homes in the regeneration of the Bellamy estate and an estimated 80 homes through acquisition, development and renovation as part of a masterplan for the town centre and other strategic sites.