Work has started to build eight zero carbon council homes across three sites in Oxford.
The new homes will be zero carbon for regulated energy use – i.e. lighting, space and hot water heating, and ventilation.
The City Council will not regulate the fittings that tenants introduce to their new home (e.g. kettles, TVs, lamps, etc), but it will encourage them to use as close to zero carbon technology as possible.
It is thought that the homes will be the first zero carbon for regulated energy use new-builds to be constructed in Oxford.
Alongside helping to tackle the climate emergency, the new homes will be wheelchair-friendly bungalows specially designed for the elderly.
The aim is to help elderly tenants move out of larger council homes in Oxford to provide much-needed family homes.
Council homes in Oxford are let at about 40% of the rental prices of the private rented sector.
New council homes
The project is taking place across three sites:
- Two one bedroom and two two-bedroom single-storey retirement homes on a site between existing homes in Bracegirdle Road and Chillingworth Crescent. The project includes demolishing a side extension to a house in Bracegirdle Road to create an access road
- Replacing garages behind Mortimer Drive with two one-bedroom and one two-bedroom single-storey retirement homes
- One two-bedroom single-storey retirement home in Broad Oak
All the homes will feature bin and bicycle stores, and disabled car parking.
All eight homes will be constructed using modern building techniques.
The homes will be built from pre-fabricated panels – featuring timber frames, insulation and electrics built in – which will then be assembled on site.
All the homes will also feature air source heat pumps, triple glazing, high standards of insulation, and solar panels.
An independent consultant has said the homes will likely achieve a 100 A or 99 A energy efficiency rating in their Energy Performance Certificates – the highest and second highest possible scores for energy efficiency.
The new homes will also feature bicycle storage, and new planting will improve the ecology of the sites.
One of the findings of the Citizens Assembly on Climate Change, which took place last year, was that there is “a perceived need for a balanced approach to decreasing emissions from buildings while simultaneously working to resolve the current homelessness and affordable housing crisis in Oxford".
The citizens’ assembly took place after the City Council declared a climate emergency in January 2019.
All the eight homes will be wheelchair and lifetime homes compliant.
They will all feature hallways that are large enough for wheelchairs to pass through, entranceways with wheelchair charging points, and wet room bathrooms.
The homes have been designed to be adapted to include hoists, or lower kitchens worktops, sinks or cookers, in the future.
The Oxford Model
The project is being managed by Oxford City Council’s housing company OCHL, while the construction is being carried out by its wholly owned company ODS.
All the new homes will become council houses managed by the City Council.
The use of the City Council’s companies is an example of in-sourcing – rather than out-sourcing to private businesses.
As the City Council is the only shareholder of ODS and OCHL, this approach – known as ‘the Oxford Model’ – generates income for the City Council to protect Oxford’s front-line services.
The construction, which started in April, will comply with national social distancing guidelines.
The aim is to complete the new homes by December 2020.
“I am delighted that work has started on eight new retirement homes in Oxford. These new homes will enable elderly people to move out of larger council homes, which will in turn provide much-needed homes for Oxford’s families.
“The City Council has declared a climate emergency and we’re committed to building a zero carbon Oxford as quickly as possible. We can’t solve our city’s carbon problem without solving the emissions from buildings – 81% of emissions in Oxford come from buildings. Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change was clear that a balance is possible between zero carbon and genuinely affordable homes – and this project shows that this is doable.”
Councillor Mike Rowley, Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing
“The climate emergency is upon us and we all need to do our bit for everyone’s future.
“This is why we made sure that the low impact credentials of these homes were present not only in their finished form but also in the way they are constructed. In addition, we have chosen to manufacture the main structures off site so that we can generate fewer journeys and can also complete building 50% quicker than we traditionally would.
“Ultimately, we are part of the community and feel a social responsibility to provide the best quality and most sustainable solutions for new homes in Oxford.”
Simon Yung, Head of New Homes at ODS