Planning applications submitted for the first Pilot Passivhaus council homes in Cambridge

We have submitted two planning applications to pilot the first ‘Passivhaus’ council home projects in Cambridge. The planning applications at Fen Road and Ditton Fields will provide 18 low carbon new council homes as part of the Cambridge City Council’s programme to provide new homes in the city and its commitments to tackling the climate emergency.

Working closely with experienced architects, Pollard Thomas Edwards, the pilot new ‘Passivhaus’ council homes will have very high standards of environmental sustainability, with all the homes having very low energy use and heating costs. They will be built using off-site timber frame systems, with thick highly insulated walls and gas free heating.

Computer Generated Image of Ditton Fields

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council and CIP board member said, “As part of the council’s new Housing Sustainable Design Guide, these planning applications for the first pilot ‘Passivhaus’ council house developments are a major step forward to addressing both the housing needs and towards our goal to be a zero net carbon city in the coming years.

“The design of these homes will help tackle fuel poverty with low running costs, resulting from minimal energy being used to keep the home warm, and air leakage at a very low level.”

The site at 71-73 Fen Road, East Chesterton, is currently not in use but accommodates two existing single storey buildings, which are in a poor state of repair and were previously used as an assisted living facility. The proposed housing scheme will provide 12 low carbon new council homes and create a new, safe and green access for walking and cycling to the Five Trees open space, which will be preserved in its entirety, helping the local community to enjoy this space.

There will also be parking spaces with electric vehicle charging points and generous provision for new cycle parking. This well positioned site will provide easy access to the city centre and other amenities for local residents.

Six ‘Passivhaus’ new council homes are also proposed at Ditton Fields along with parking spaces with electric vehicle charging points, secure cycle parking for every home and new trees and planting provided in front on the new homes on Ditton Fields.

Tom Hill, Regional Director of Hill comments, “We are committed to providing high environmental standards and we are delighted to be submitting our first ‘Passivhaus’ schemes. As well as providing these low carbon homes, all our developments are now gas free, five years ahead of the Government’s targets with high levels of insulation and are built in accordance with the Cambridge Sustainable Housing Design Guide.”

Our team has worked with Pollard Thomas Edwards, The Environment Partnership and Carter Jonas to bring forward these two schemes.


Archaeological evaluation of the land at The Meadows

An archaeological evaluation of the land at The Meadows Centre and St Alban’s Recreation Ground will take place from mid-December as a pre-commencement planning condition set out by the Joint Development Control Committee, made up of Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Various parts of the site will be reviewed with three trenches being dug to see if there is any archaeological significance on the site. The trenches have been located to provide a representative sample of the site.

The work is expected to last five days and is being carried out in a way to minimise the disruption to the open space, with the trenches being filled back as they originally were once the work has been completed.

The evaluation of the land takes place ahead of initial works starting on site in January and main construction works due to commence in March 2021. A public engagement event will also take place in January.

We were granted planning for The Meadows and Buchan Street site in August 2020. The two existing community facilities will be replaced with a modern, highly sustainable community hub, along with brand new council rented apartments, new open space, a public plaza, and retention of a café and shop space.

The Meadows site will provide 78 new one and two bedroom apartments for council rent and the Buchan Street site will see 28 one and two bedroom council rented flats built. Four of the flats at The Meadows and one at Buchan Street will be for wheelchair users.

A net total of 109 new trees will also be planted, and as well as retaining the zip wire and trim trail, a new MUGA (multi-use games area), an improved free-draining football pitch, new play areas, and a new skate ramp will be provided at the recreation ground, replacing the current provision. Enhanced meadows and woodland areas will also mean an overall improvement of 65% in biodiversity for the open space.


New plans submitted for Parcel L2 in Orchard Park

We have submitted a revised planning application to South Cambridgeshire District Council for Parcel L2, Orchard Park after working with Mole architects to improve the design of the site.

The site has existing planning permission for 63 homes, a gym and two commercial units with 40% shared equity homes. The revised application will provide 75 new homes, including 40% council rented homes in a creative new design with two apartment blocks and a row of coach houses. This highly sustainable development will be ‘gas free’ with air source heat pumps, biodiverse green roofs, six electric charging spaces, one hybrid/electric car club vehicle and above-policy cycle parking provision of 124 bike spaces.

We have worked closely with the local community to design the scheme and a masterplan of improvements to the adjacent public open space. These include extensive recreational and biodiversity improvements and include a community growing garden, pergola and seating area, trim trail, running track, table tennis table and generous planting.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council and CIP board member said:

“The new proposals have given us the opportunity to design a welcoming new space which sees the provision of much needed new council homes in the north of the city as well as an increase in the overall number of homes being delivered on the development.

“The revised design also encourages sustainable methods of travel with above policy provision on cycle spaces and the electric vehicle charging spaces. We have also improved the public realm to provide new open spaces that integrate with and enhance the neighbouring public open space, enabling us to create a coherent, connected neighbourhood in Orchard Park.”

The site is one of the last parcels of land at Orchard Park to be developed and has been allocated for housing. The homes will be built in line with the Cambridge Sustainable Housing Design Guide using standards which exceed national policy guidelines including denser insulation and wall thickness to minimise heat loss and reduce residents’ energy bills.

Tom Hill, Regional Director of Hill comments,

“We are really excited to be submitting these new plans for Orchard Park. As part of our revised application we have also taken into account views and comments shared at a number of online consultation meetings we held with local residents and community groups over the summer.

“As well as delivering a high quality, sustainable development we are including some improvements to the public open space for the community to enjoy.”

The scheme will include sustainable drainage features and there will be additional tree planting to provide privacy to the flats at Engledow Drive.

The new homes at Orchard Park will have excellent accessibility to Cambridge Science Park, Cambridge Business Park, Cambridge North station and the city centre via regular bus routes and the guided busway.

 


Green light given for brand new community hub and council homes at The Meadows and Buchan Street

Following extensive consultation with residents, local community groups, staff and other stakeholders, we are delighted to have been granted planning permission at the Meadows and Buchan Street sites for the redevelopment of the council owned Meadows and Buchan Street community centres along with much needed council rented homes.

Planning was granted for The Meadows site at the first meeting of the new Joint Development Control Committee, made up of Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council, as it crosses council boundary areas, whilst Buchan Street was granted planning by Cambridge City Council.

The two existing community facilities will be replaced with a modern, highly sustainable community hub, which will include large, flexible multi-purpose spaces that can be used to provide pre-school, children, family and youth activities, classes such as IT or health and rehabilitation fitness classes.

There will also be increased meeting spaces and a new café area, providing opportunities for further income generation for the hub. Extensive consultation with staff and user groups has resulted in enhanced designs to maximise flexibility and future proofing whilst improving accessibility.

The Meadows site will also provide 78 new one and two bedroom apartments for council rent and the Buchan Street site will see 28 one and two bedroom council rented flats built. Four of the flats at The Meadows and one at Buchan Street will be for wheelchair users.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing for Cambridge City Council and CIP board member comments,

“We are delighted to get the go ahead on these important sites for Cambridge Investment Partnership. Over the past year we have consulted extensively with local residents and stakeholders to ensure that we have taken into account their views and refined our proposals for the sites, particularly with regards to the open space at St Alban’s recreation ground.

“We look forward to delivering a fantastic new facility which can be enjoyed by everyone along with much needed council rented homes in the north of Cambridge to address the housing shortage.”

The new developments will offer high levels of sustainability with the community hub designed to BREEAM Excellent, which is in the top 10% of non-domestic buildings in the UK. The Cambridge Local Plan targets 19% carbon reduction on 2013 Building Regulations and both sites will achieve around 60% in carbon reduction, significantly exceeding local plan requirements.

Tom Hill, Regional Director for Hill said,

“As a partnership we are committed to building with the community in mind and are very pleased that The Meadows and Buchan Street has been granted planning. We will not only create much needed new homes but deliver a first class community hub which will provide the local community with better facilities for years to come.

“Sustainability is also an integral part of our design and we will be providing electric charging points for cars, 230 cycle spaces across the two sites, underground recycling bins and green roofs, with solar photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps as the main energy sources.”

The council published a Community Centres Strategy in 2019 which identified that a community centre serving both Arbury and Kings Hedges residents is essential and a priority location for delivering outreach services. However, it identified overlaps in the existing provision and an opportunity to provide community based services more efficiently and sustainably in future, in one enhanced new, modern, fit for the future community hub. This also created an opportunity to use any surplus land created to provide additional new council rented homes.

At Buchan Street plans also include new open space, a public plaza, and retention of a café and shop space.

As part of the plans 93.6% of the open space will be retained, as opposed to 85% proposed under the first consultation and 92% in the second.

A net total of 109 new trees will also be planted, and as well as retaining the zip wire and trim trail, a new MUGA (multi-use games area), an improved free-draining football pitch, new play areas, and a new skate ramp will be provided at the recreation ground, replacing the current provision. Within the plans, enhanced meadows and woodland areas will also mean an overall improvement of 65% in biodiversity for the open space.


Major milestone as our first residents move into their brand new council homes

With construction sites being given the green light to reopen following lockdown restrictions, we are delighted to be welcoming our new residents to their brand new council rented homes at Anstey Way in Trumpington, Cambridgeshire.

We have been able to partially re-open our sites under strict Government guidelines which has allowed a limited number of staff to return to work to complete nearly finished units in order to get them handed over to those already allocated the new council homes.

Tom Hill, Director of Hill said,

“As a partnership we are committed to delivering much needed new council homes in Cambridge and following a review of our procedures we have been able to operate on site, under social distancing rules, in order to complete a number of new homes for local residents. We are delighted that we have been able to do this and see the completion of these much needed, high quality council rented homes.

“We also welcome the opportunity for local Cambridge subcontractors, who are often self-employed, to be able to return to work on the CIP sites. Our thoughts continue to be with those who are suffering from Covid-19 and their families.”

Anstey Way is our first completed development which has replaced 26 aging council homes that were previously on the site with 56 one, two and three bedroom council rented apartments for local residents. So far 37 new homes have been handed over with a further 19 in the coming weeks.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing for Cambridge City Council and CIP board member adds:

“In these uncertain times, it is wonderful to see residents moving into their brand new council homes at Anstey Way and the positive impact these properties are having on the families and the local community.

“Providing new council homes remains a top priority for the council as we work to address the housing affordability crisis in the city. I would like to thank the team who have worked tirelessly over many weeks to put in place programmes to allow this vital work to be completed. This development also marks a significant point in our partnership with Hill to deliver 500 brand new council homes across the city by March 2022.”

We are also working hard to complete three brand new council homes at Colville Garages, two at Queens Meadow and two at Gunhild Way.


COVID-19/Coronavirus Response and Updates

The safety and well-being of our colleagues, supply chain and customers is our main priority. Over recent weeks we have followed guidance from Government and Public Health England and implemented a number of changes to our business in order to keep our colleagues and stakeholders safe.

However, in light of the Prime Minister’s statement on the evening of the 23rd March, we now believe the time is right to begin an orderly close down of our core operations until this crisis is beyond us.

Whilst the Government guidance remains unclear, particularly with the Secretary of State last night tweeting that construction and housing can continue working from site within social distancing guidelines, we are strongly of the opinion we have reached the moral and practical point at which it is no longer possible for us to continue to operate in a business as usual manner.

We will therefore be taking the following actions:

CIP Sites: Construction operations on site will cease by close of business on Friday 27th March. We have been planning for this over recent weeks, and so have a clear plan for doing so. It is important that we continue until Friday so that we can ensure an orderly and well managed close down. Health and Safety is a priority on site and we are prioritising operations over the next few days to leave our sites in a safe and orderly manner.

Up until the point of close down, sites will continue to operate within social distancing guidelines and with the enhanced hygiene measures we have already put in place over recent weeks.

Those who continue to work on site will manage the situation sensibly and practically, including:

  • avoiding public transport
  • working to a strict rota basis
  • implementing stringent hygiene policies
  • minimising close contact with others and practising social distancing
  • managing welfare according to Government guidance
  • spacing out desks as necessary within our site offices

Office based staff: Please direct all communications by email or phone to the relevant persons and assume that any post will not be opened until it is possible to return to our offices.

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we are closely monitoring, and will continue to follow, the guidance of Government and Public Health England. As and when there are any significant changes, we will be sure to update our staff, clients, partners, customers and supply chain as quickly as possible.


Three year anniversary sees us celebrate great achievements

It’s three years since we formed Cambridge Investment Partnership and already we are ahead of our target to deliver 500 brand new council homes by March 2022.

Successes to date include:

  • 11 sites under construction
  • 405 council rented homes already achieved planning
  • Additional 195 council rented homes expected to achieve planning by year end 2020
  • 336 council rented homes started on site
  • 895 overall homes in programme

As well as new homes, we are providing community and commercial amenities which will form an integral part of CIP’s developments across the city, these include:

  • Five new community centres across four different wards
  • A major new community hub serving Arbury, King’s Hedges and nearby residents in South Cambs
  • A brand new pre-school in Romsey and enhanced pre-school in Arbury to meet a critical local need
  • Seven new shops/cafes/offices that will also provide flexible facilities to meet local demand
  • £450,000 invested in public art commissions
  • Four new parks being created at Mill Road and Cromwell Road
  • The entire Meadows open space is being replanted and landscaped, with existing recreation facilities being preserved and enhanced
  • The Chisholm Trail will see a new leg added as part of the Mill Road development, opening up a North-South route for pedestrians and cyclists in the town centre which has been closed to the public for over 100 years
  • £7,199,774 worth of S106 money committed to local schools, parks, sports centres, NHS and The Chisholm Trail

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing for Cambridge City Council and CIP board member said:

“The formation of this equal partnership has allowed us to increase the pace we are able to design and build brand new council rented and private sale homes in neighbourhoods across the city on council owned land but also secure sites on the open market to deliver larger scale schemes, such as Cromwell Road, enabling us to create mixed and balanced communities.”

Sustainability is integral to the design process. All homes built are in line or go beyond the Cambridge Sustainable Housing Design Guide which already exceeds national policy guidelines.

Developments include features such as:

  • Enhanced Biodiversity including:
  • Green roofs
  • Bird and Bat boxes
  • Over 200 new trees planted
  • Creation of biodiverse meadows
  • Sustainable Urban Drainage to future proof against climate change
  • Low Carbon Energy Efficient design including:
  • A Fabric First approach to energy efficiency though better insulated homes requiring less heating
  • Solar Photovoltaic panels to supply power to communal areas and homes
  • Battery storage saving energy from Solar PV
  • Combined heat and power generating hot water, heat and electricity
  • Air Source Heat Pumps
  • Electric car charging points
  • Significant cycle storage

Tom Hill, Director at Hill comments:

“Using the Partnerships’ knowledge and expertise we have been able to bring forward our plans and are creating high quality market sale and affordable properties which will be fully integrated into the neighbourhoods. Community is key in everything we do and we have, and will continue to,  work closely with residents and community groups to ensure the commercial and communities facilities we are delivering are enhanced and accessible to all. Through our supply chain we are also promoting training and apprenticeship opportunities on our projects and have a target of 5% of the workforce to be from the local community.

“Cambridge has an acute shortage of affordable homes and the new truly affordable council homes we are delivering will have a positive impact on families and the local communities where we are building.”