Work on the UK’s first eco town in Oxfordshire is due to start at the end of March, in the hope that the first residents of the town will be able to start moving in in Spring 2015.
The site, based in north-west Bicester is being developed by A2Dominion and will be home to 393 energy efficient, carbon neutral homes. The site is, however, just the first step in A2Dominion’s wider plan to provide up to 6000 green homes across the UK.
The site, known currently as Exemplar, will be a small community featuring all the usual amenities of an ordinary town. Alongside 393 houses, the site will include a primary school, community centre, local pub and a business and retail centre, all built to ensure they remain zero carbon and energy efficient.
To ensure the highest standards of energy efficiency, all the homes in the new town are to be built in accordance with the Code for Sustainable Homes level 5, a standard which requires the installation of triple glazed windows, water recycling and rainwater harvesting systems. The houses are also designed to adapt to changing climate, and stay warm in winter without overheating during warmer weather.
Electricity and heat
Buildings in the development are designed to be sustainable, using renewable energy to heat and power themselves. Every building will be fitted with solar PV panels to harness solar power to generate electricity for domestic use. Heat and hot water will be provided by a combined heat and power plant and any excess energy will be exported back to the national grid.
Green space and landscaping
As the UK’s first eco town, great emphasis is placed on the importance of outdoor green spaces which can be enjoyed by all residents. The town will consist of 40% green space which will feature allotments, natural, safe play areas, community outdoor spaces and even herb boxes and barbeques, to make enjoying the outdoors a sociable and inclusive experience.
A2Dominion aim to build the development without sending a single waste item to landfill, instead reusing and recycling every material possible. So far, only the 2012 Olympic site in London has been able to do this. The town is also likely to feature a number of waste-reducing schemes once residents have started to move in.
As an eco town, great effort has been made to ensure that alternative, sustainable transport is able to thrive, and that low carbon alternatives become the first option for residents. Pedestrian and cycle paths are built to ensure safe transport by foot or bicycle, and bus services are designed to cater for everyone, stopping within 400m of every house. The town is also designed to accommodate electric cars, with plenty of charging points located around the area, as well as an electric car sharing club for occasional drivers.
Project director, Steve Hornblow hopes that the project will, not only provide low carbon living, but will allow residents to enjoy a strong community spirit holding traditional values, in a clean and friendly environment: “We’ve designed communal area to incorporate communal barbecue areas, herb boxes and seating with features to encourage children to play safely in the street. We want to approach sustainable living realistically, providing people with the tools to benefit from a real community environment, reduced home running costs and access to the latest green technologies.”
Construction work on the town will start at the end of March building access roads to the site, in order for work on housing to begin in August 2014.
Image sourced: M J Richardsontagseco towngreen livingpv panelssustainable transport