Case study: award-winning development of 12 dwellings – Rural Buckinghamshire

This site comprises two three-bedroom houses, four two-bedroom houses, four two-bedroom flats and two one-bedroom flats. It is located in the rural Buckinghamshire village of Quainton and has been developed to provide social housing for the Guinness Trust. The site was selected by the Trust to be constructed to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes in advance of the implementation of the requirement for all funded housing to meet this level in order that it could develop a compliance strategy on the basis of the experience gained. The Blewburton Partnership (BBP) was involved from the early design stage providing advice on the most effective measures to take to achieve the desired Level 4, through to Design Stage submission and finally, to Post Construction Review.

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There were two key challenges to meeting the Level 4 standard: one was to achieve the reduction in carbon emissions required, which was particularly challenging since the development is off the gas grid; the second was to meet the mandatory requirements for Surface Water Run-off which was particularly difficult due to the soil characteristics on the site.

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As well as undertaking the Code related work, BBP have also undertaken the SAP calculations and using NHER software as a design tool have been able to advise the developer and architect, after several iterations, on the best solution to exceed the Part L1A of the Building Regulations by the required 44%. Taking into account the client’s reluctance to use Air Source Heat Pump technology the solution that emerged comprised electric storage heaters, panel heaters for secondary heating, roof mounted solar thermal collectors to provide hot water to each unit and a ground mounted 6.64kWp photovoltaic array. This was in addition to building elements with low U-values, the use of accredited construction details and the achievement of very low air leakage rate giving an excellent overall thermal performance of the building envelope.

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Early on in the process the developer recognised and understood the need for comprehensive survey work and reports relating to control of surface water run-off and ecological issues and these were produced and the measures suggested implemented to secure vital Code credits.

This site has also achieved compliance with Lifetime Homes standards and this required a certain amount of ‘re-thinks’ at design stage as to how to achieve compliance.

The development was awarded the LABC Central Building Excellence 2011 Award for the Best Social or Affordable Housing scheme (see Mary Miller below at the awards ceremony).

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