Construction of UK’s first Eco Town Begins

The first eco town to be built in the UK is gaining global recognition and for good reason, too.


North West Bicester, Oxfordshire, will be the first eco town to be built in the UK. The project is lead by developer A2Dominion who have begun preparing the site for building works to start on the 6,000 home eco development.

The initial stage of this project, known as the Exemplar, will be comprised of the building of 393 highly efficient, zero cabron homes, thus forging the country’s first zero carbon community. The development will be made up of 40% green space, making use of cutting edge technology, economic opportunities, and community engagement, with concern for the environment at its core. John Knevett,

A2Dominion’s group chief commercial officer and deputy chief executive said: “A2Dominion is proud to be at the forefront of the country’s first eco town. NW Bicester will be an example to future developments in establishing sustainable new communities in the UK. We will create an outstanding living environment, which will provide exceptional quality of life for residents, without compromising the needs of our future generations.”

The town will include a primary school, eco-business and retail centre, community centre, and eco pub, creating a village atmosphere and offering important social areas. The unique elements of the Exemplar phase are:

- it is the sole eco development in the country that continues to stick to the strict Planning Policy Statements (PPS1) first set out by the government for the building of eco towns.

- On top of being completely zero carbon, each home will be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5, using triple glazing, rainwater harvesting, and water recycling. The houses are designed to cope with climate change peaks of up to 10 degrees Celsius, meaning they will stay cool in summer and warm in the winter.

- Waste will be dramatically reduced, with zero waste to landfill during construction, following suit of the London 2012 Olympics.

- The town will boast 40% green space, including community allotments to encourage outdoor activities and to nurture local wildlife and biodiversity. Natural landscaping techniques will create safe play areas.

- Each home will be fitted with solar PV panels (averaging 34m2 per home), making this the country’s largest residential solar array able to generate power for 550 homes.

- Hot water and heating will be provided by a combined heat and power plant (CHP), one of the first parts of the scheme to be finished later this year. Excess electricity generated will be exported to the national grid.

- Sustainable transport will be encouraged with specially designed cycle and pedestrian routes, a bus service running from under 400m of each home and showing live timetable updates in every house, electric car charging points and an electric car club.

NW Bicester project director at A2Dominion, Steve Hornblow, said: “NW Bicester is about enabling people to live modern-day lifestyles but with traditional values. We want the Exemplar to become a vibrant and resilient community where people know their neighbours. We’ve designed community space 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.”

A2Dominion is committed to making NW Bicester fully integrated wit the wider town and has been in close working proximity with local Bicester businesses and the existing community. The local community is to be kept involved and a part of the decision making process.

The Exemplar Phase has been recognised globally, and has been awarded BioRegional‘s One Plant Living status 1; one of just seven developments worldwide to achieve this sustainability accolade. Sue Riddlestone, chief executive and co-founder of BioRegional, added: “We’re excited that the work of building this new One Planet Community is getting underway, and we can’t wait to see the first residents move in and bring it to life.”

Residents will be expected to start to move in to their new homes in spring 2015.

Image by NW Bicester

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