First foundations for first rural social housing Passivhaus development

9 August 2010

Sir Alan Haselhurst MP has helped to commemorate the start of building works for new affordable homes in Wimbish. The project, intended to be the first accredited social housing rural Passivhaus development, will provide fourteen homes, giving local Sir Alan Haselhurst MP and guestshouseholds the opportunity to rent or buy a home on a shared ownership basis.

Using the help of a mini digger, Sir Alan was joined by members of Wimbish Parish Council and project partners Bramall Construction, Parsons and Whittley Architects, Inbuilt and Davis Langdon who all watched on as the first piece of earth was cut.

Pupils from the local primary school were also on site to help mark the start of the construction of the new homes. Local children commented that they were looking forward to the prospect of youngsters being able to stay in the village and come to their primary school which is across the road from the development and currently has only 58 pupils.

The homes off Mill Lane in Wimbish near Saffron Walden will be built to Passivhaus specifications and will require little or no energy use for heating or cooling. The homes will have excellent thermal comfort and ventilation and low primary energy use. The buildings will also achieve high quality construction standards and reach Code Four of the Code for Sustainable Homes meaning that they will be super energy efficient.
The go ahead for the scheme was given earlier this year, following planning permission from Uttlesford District Council and grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.

Sue Chalkley, Chief Executive of Hastoe said: “This project offers real benefits to the community and will give its future residents lower running costs because of the green building products. We will be sharing what we learn from this innovative development with other associations, to help reduce the carbon footprint of new homes”.

Chairman of the Parish Council, Mike Young, said: "We had asked that the homes be as environmentally friendly as possible and our expectations were exceeded with plans to build to Passivhaus standards".

John Walsh Managing Director for the Eastern region at, Bramall Construction said: “It’s great that we are able to deliverer such a forward thinking development in partnership with Hastoe and the other partners on the scheme. The homes will be a real benefit to the lifestyles of future residents who will be able to enjoy lower fuel bills and a more environmentally friendly way of living. The support from the local community has been fantastic and it’s been great to hear their views on the scheme.”

The development is on a rural exception site protected by a legal agreement. This means the homes provided will be for local people in housing need, now and in the future and they cannot be lost to the open market.

For more information please contact Rebecca Beaumont, Hastoe on 020 8973 0437 or

Housing represents 27% of the UK’s total carbon emissions and the Government has set a target for an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

Passivhaus is a design methodology for ultra low-energy buildings, promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. There are about 12,500 Passivhaus buildings worldwide, the vast majority of them in Germany and Austria, and the approach is rapidly growing in popularity in the UK as developers and designers consider their options to meet the Government's zero carbon targets.

Hastoe Housing Association is a not-for-profit organisation that owns and manages over 4,000 homes in southern England for affordable housing through letting and shared ownership. Half of these homes are in rural areas. Hastoe works closely with its residents to ensure it provides sustainable homes in sustainable communities. Further information can be found at:

Bramall Construction is part of the Keepmoat Group, a highly successful community regeneration organisation with a turnover of more than £560 million a year. Other group companies include Frank Haslam Milan, Keepmoat Homes, Keepmoat Site Services and Milnerbuild. Bramall Construction specialises in delivering innovative solutions to the refurbishment and new build social housing market and are pioneering Extra Care housing. The company works throughout Yorkshire, Humberside, East Midlands, East of England and the North West. Since its beginning in 1931, Bramall Construction has grown into a progressive and forward thinking construction organisation with a turnover of more than £200 million a year.

It is now involved in numerous long-term partnerships with local authorities, Arm’s Length Management Organisations (ALMOs), Large Scale Voluntary Transfers (LSVTs), Housing Associations and other Social Landlords to help them achieve the Government’s housing targets.

Parsons & Whittley is an award winning architectural practice based in Swaffham, Norfolk. Currently with a team of 7 the practice is experienced in all types of buildings, with a project list ranging from private residences through housing and property development, to commercial projects such as office developments and car showrooms. Being rurally based, it has also undertaken an extensive range of agricultural building conversion work. Further information can be found at

Inbuilt is the UK's leading consultancy specialising purely in the research, design and delivery of sustainable built environments. Inbuilt are one of just twenty organisations worldwide accredited by the Passivhaus Institut in Germany to certify Passivhaus buildings. It focuses on three core areas of expertise: strategic sustainability consultancy, low and zero carbon buildings and renewable energy consultancy. Closely linked to these activities, it also provides training, Passivhaus certification, design and technical services and research into all areas of sustainability. Further information can be found at:
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