At a time of climate emergency when many new housing developments lack sustainable measures, the people of Hook Norton have generated an innovative community-led project of affordable homes that will have a positive impact on the environment and be fit for the future.
The opportunity arose when Hook Norton Low Carbon (HNCL) identified a piece of neglected and overgrown land to the east of the Sports & Social Club (SSC) behind Bourne Lane, owned by Cherwell District Council (CDC). The council were approached and were keen to work with the community and HNLC on developing an affordable and sustainable housing project for those in need with a strong local connection.
The Low Carbon Hub in Oxford provided grant funding via the OxFutures programme for a feasibility study and an extensive round of community engagement and consultation took place from February 2018 to January 2020. For more information about the background to the development, see Our Consultation Process.
Planning permission was granted in May 2020 by Cherwell District Council for 12 Passivhaus homes and a community building to be built on this site. There is a mix of affordable rented and shared ownership units alongside private market housing all identical in appearance and specification.
What will the HNCLT project deliver?
Passivhaus is a voluntary standard for buildings that are energy efficient, so reducing the building’s ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for heating or cooling.
The new homes will therefore achieve a high level of air-tightness to ensure maximum comfort with low running costs and reduced carbon emissions.
In the development, there will also be:
● electric vehicle charging points
● a shared car scheme
● environmentally friendly landscaping and shared growing beds
● shared facilities with the wider community in the community building and workshops.
Everything will be powered by renewable energy and be part of its own microgrid.
In August 2018, four architectural practices submitted bids to develop the project. Charlie Luxton Design presented the most imaginative and community based interpretation and was unanimously chosen as the project Architectural Design Team.
The practice has since been involved in intensive consultations with the community and has brought the needs and ideas of the whole project to life.
The design has been developed by Charlie Luxton Design after careful analysis of the unique qualities of Hook Norton. It’s a village with a tightly packed core where houses sit shoulder to shoulder, creating fascinating streetscapes with a web of cut throughs and canyons of stone pierced with windows all topped by a jumble of roofs.
Our development draws upon the very best of Hook Norton and re-imagines it for the 21st century. It has been achieved not by aping but by learning from and re-imagining the existing village character to provide a template for what its future housing could be.
Proposed Site Plan
Model Overview of Site
For more detail on the development of the project, including site opportunities and constraints, sustainability, the landscape design and more information about passivhaus design, see the HNCLT Design and Access Statement. This document was created as a part of the planning application procedure.
The final design
The houses and landscape have been designed to create a friendly and shared environment balancing the needs of residents for private space with the needs of the wider village to enjoy the site and its facilities. Guided by the architecture and planting, subtle boundaries will be established that allow both groups to coexist in one space. Key features of the design are as follows.
Proposed Unit Type
12 homes: 2 x 1-bed flats, 8 x 2-bed flats and 2 x 3-bed flats.
Two terrace blocks offer efficiencies in construction and thermal performance.
The design of the two terraces differ to provide visual interest, but each one uses a repeating plan for efficiency in construction.
The ground floor flats have private gardens to the rear, separated from the public area by fences, screened by planting, to soften their appearance.
The first-floor flats have good sized terraces that look onto the shared communal space.
Extensive PV arrays connected to a microgrid.
The community building
A community building further provides a shared meeting space, a community café and facilities such as self-contained guest bedrooms. The workshop has a large window that overlooks the southern entry point to the site.
A shared landscape dominates the centre of the site providing high quality space to be enjoyed by the residents and wider village. This is intended to become a new pedestrian heart to the village
Shared area with planters, benches and bin stores. Fruit trees are to be planted
throughout the site to provide a community orchard.
Car parking concentrated on the western edge of the site (17 spaces) to provide
buffering to the adjacent MUGA.
There won’t be any parking available on the site for the proposed community building.
Lockable bike storage for all residents (24 spaces; exceeding CDC guidelines) and a further 14 spaces for visitors.
Secure covered storage for mobility scooters and each ground floor flat has a 1.8m wide covered terrace adjacent to its front door designed to provide additional close proximity parking for mobility scooters, should they be needed.
Level access and thresholds throughout.
Pedestrian access will be actively promoted as the route to reach the community
Access onto the site and into the community building will be wheelchair friendly.
Access for loading, bin collection and disabled parking via a shared surface in the heart
of the scheme.
The new structures have been pulled away from the adjacent properties to reduce impact on the neighbours and allow for first-floor living areas.
To encourage connections to the wider village, new pedestrian links will be established; south to the Bourne and the village beyond, north to the Bourne View estate helping connect this new addition to the village, and west in two places to the Sports and Social Club. These new pedestrian routes will bind the new development into the fabric of the village ensuring it becomes a vibrant new public space for Hook Norton.
To meet the high sustainability ambitions of the project, the following key elements are incorporated into the design:
● Passivhaus or Passivhaus equivalent
● Solar arrays
● Micro grid
● Air source heat pumps (ASHP)
● Low temperature district heating with centralised units shared between properties to reduce maintenance requirements
● Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR)
● Low embodied energy and CO2 materials
● Carbon offsetting through local tree planting
● Shared growing space and greenhouse
One of the biggest sources of CO2 emissions for any larger construction site is emissions associated with getting the workforce to and from site. The proposal for this scheme is to use local trades and suppliers to reduce these emissions and keep as much of the construction spend in the local economy as possible.
The Low Carbon Hub, Oxford, are designing a micro grid for the project, aimed at providing a decentralised system of locally generated energy and allowing the community to be more energy independent and environmentally friendly.