WORK has begun on a new community of 88 sustainable homes on the edge of a Cotswold village.
The homes, at Orchard Field in Siddington, near Cirencester, have been designed to be as low energy as possible.
Each Cotswold stone or red brick home will have solar panels embedded into the roof, 45cm thick walls filled with eco-friendly insulation, triple glazing and airtight interiors to eliminate draughts and allow the energy-efficient heating system to cut bills by up to 70 per cent compared to standard -new-built houses.
Housebuilder Stonewood Partnerships is developing the environmentally friendly community as joint venture with retired architect Nicholas Arbuthnott, whose vision inspired the scheme.
Mr Arbuthnott, who secured an option on the site close to Siddington C of E School and was given outline permission on appeal in June 2017, said the key to making the one, two, three, four and five bedroomed homes as low energy as possible is in their design.
“We call it a fabric-first approach – which means if you get the building right in the first place you make it energy efficient.
“The timber-frames will be pre-assembled and insulated and pieced together on-site so there will be far more quality control and they will be quicker to build.
“Using timber will mean far less concrete which also reduces the embodied carbon.”
Ground-floor underfloor heating fuelled by an air source heat pump and the use of mechanical ventilation heat recovery, which removes warm air from the kitchen and bathroom and uses it to heat air flowing into the living room and bedrooms, will keep the homes warm in winter and cool in summer.
Small-bore pipes will deliver rapid hot water to sinks and showers to reduce heat loss and water waste.
Up to 12 solar panels integrated into each traditional slate-tiled roof will be able to work with smart technology in fridges, freezers and hot water cylinders to maximise the energy generated throughout the day.
Every home with a driveway will have an electric car charging point and other charging points will be available in communal parking areas.
Matt Vaudin, director of Stonewood Design said thought has gone into making the community as sustainable as the homes.
“The scheme is ambitious and exciting,” he said. “We are creating a really nice community within a landscape-led project that is different to normal housing development. We are creating places instead of just spaces.”
Mr Arbuthnott said his vision is of a community that lives seamlessly together – with the majority of homes facing each other to increase the sense of togetherness and a focus on communal spaces.
He said: “We feel it is important after these Covid times to bring people together and to know each other. That is why we have included lots of public open spaces in four courtyards planted with fruit trees.”
The woodland-bordered site is 35 acres in total but just 11 acres will be developed. Hundreds of trees will be planted across the community, beginning with an orchard to the west of the development and dozens more lining the parkland road into Orchard Field.
Two new ponds have already been built on a two-acre nature reserve away from the homes to provide a haven for Great Crested Newts, birds and other wildlife.
A new dropping off point will be created for parents bringing children to school. The new community is expected to provide at least 30 new pupils for the 110-pupil school.