Building better places in York

Affordable and zero-carbon homes are at the heart of the city’s new housing programme.

Construction work on the first two Passivhaus and zero-carbon sites in the City of York Council’s ground breaking 600-home Housing Delivery Programme will begin this summer.

The sites will deliver 117 new homes, with up to 60 per cent affordable housing, including council housing and shared-ownership properties, and opportunities for five self-builders to design and build their own homes.

The new homes, which include a mix of terraced houses and apartments, are intended to set the standards for providing new affordable housing while also tackling the climate emergency and creating resilient, mutually supportive new communities.

In keeping with ‘Building better places’, the council’s own design manual, all the new homes will be zero carbon in use. With the very high levels of insulation that are a feature of Passivhaus, very little space heating will be needed.

Occupants will have warm, comfortable, well-ventilated homes, needing very little energy use. Large numbers of solar PV panels, alongside air source heat pumps, will help to deliver zero carbon.

Designed by Stirling prize-winning architects Mikhail Riches, the new homes are also built to national space standards.

Lifetime adaptability and accessibility also feature, and there are generous amounts of public and private green space, which can be used for socialising, quiet reflection, creative play and community food growing.

A feature of the design is secure ‘ginnels’, or back alleyways, between terraces – spaces for neighbours to meet and socialise, and for children to play safely.

Each site is individual and responds to its local neighbourhood, but following extensive community engagement and involvement in the design, they also reflect the design principles that aim for the whole site to support residents to live low-carbon lifestyles.

All sites in the programme have low levels of car parking provision and very high levels of secure cycle parking, along with electric cargo bikes for hire. There are cycling and walking links to and through the sites, as well as car-free play streets.

Future sites will also include small workshop, business start-up and ‘maker’ spaces, to support working close to home.

Projects aim to promote inter-generational living to help tackle social isolation and provide support structures for young families and others.

“Projects aim to promote inter-generational living to help tackle social isolation”

An earlier first phase of the programme, to deliver 165 new homes up to Energy Performance Certificate A standard, and with many similar design principles, is already well under way, with many homes occupied.

A third zero-carbon site has been submitted for planning approval, with two further sites at the design and community consultation stage.

It is really important that new-build homes are adding no new emissions to the increasingly urgent climate emergency. There are also obvious benefits to very low energy use homes with respect to soaring fuel prices and security of energy supplies.

Our contractors will also be working with local education providers to develop training in the green construction skills that are needed to deliver this programme and which complement energy efficiency retrofit work on our existing housing.

I am particularly pleased that we are not just providing very low-energy housing, but also designing whole sites that support low-carbon living and healthy communities.


Image credit: copyright Mikhail Riches, Darc Studio


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