Thursday, 4 July 2013

VGS AGM: sustainable communities in East Devon

Cllr Jill Elsom, East Devon District Council portfolio for Sustainable Communities, joined the panel of 'experts' at the Vision Group's AGM last week - and was able to make several points from this 'official' perspective:

> Social housing (both local authority and housing association) are required to adhere to a different code compared to the regulations which govern the private market. Also, whereas 'old-build' must retro-fit, new-build is required to install new technologies.

Footprint » Scottish house targets Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5

These houses meet Code 3, which have been in place since 2006:
It is a national standard for use in the design and construction of new homes with a view to encouraging continuous improvement in sustainable home building. The code works by awarding new homes a rating from Level 1 to Level 6...
Code for Sustainable Homes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 
The Code measures the whole home as a complete package, assessing its sustainability against nine categories: energy/carbon dioxide; water; materials; surface water run-off; waste; pollution; health and well-being; management; ecology.
The Code for Sustainable Homes / New build / Free resources for housing professionals / Innovation / Organisations / Home (England) - Energy Saving Trust England
Recent research carried out by English Partnerships (englishpartnerships.co.uk) suggests that hitting the new building standard for UK homes – the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 (CSH 3) – will cost 12-15% more than meeting the current Building Regulations requirements. 
Code for Sustainable Homes | Homebuilding & Renovating

Architecture, Masterplanning, Interior & Graphic Design

In Sidmouth there have been Code 3 developments at Manstone Ave (which has halved running costs for disabled residents) and Stowford Rise (through the Devon & Cornwall Housing Assn).

Affordable homes – just a few of many across the district Families moving into a new affordable housing development in Sidmouth are getting closer to nature. 
Stowford is one of several developments providing dozens of new affordable houses across the district and the first families who moved in found they are living beside some unusual local wildlife. 
Devon & Cornwall Housing, East Devon District Council, Westbury Partnerships and Westco are building a total of 89 affordable homes, supported by a £4.5m investment from the Homes and Communities Agency. 
These homes will account for two-thirds of the 133 properties at Stowford Rise, which are being built to Code 3 for Sustainable Homes, ensuring they conform to high eco-friendly levels. 
When the developers started work, they found a male dormouse, and straight away placed it out of harm’s way within retained vegetation. As a result, dormice will be monitored on site for the next five years by the council, Encompass Ecology and the Woodland Trust. 
The new Stowford residents also live close to a badger sett, which will remain undisturbed until the summer to prevent disruption to mother and cubs. 
Workers also found an abundance of reptile life – 278 lizards and slow worms. These will be safely relocated to Fire Beacon Hill Local Nature Reserve.
Devon families get close to wildlife at Stowford Rise | Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)
View From Online - News from West Dorset, East Devon & South Somerset

Beyond, in Budleigh Salterton, social housing has been built at Code 6, Lympstone houses enjoy solar panels and in Rockbere there are ground heat pumps - with many of the tenants on housing benefit, lower costs are most welcome.

Cranbrook Logo
East Devon District Council - New Community Design Workshop

Jill also reminded us that new town Cranbrook's 1300 social housing units are being built to Code 3:

The new community – Cranbrook will be developed in the west of the district close to Exeter. Its initial key features are: 
• 2900 dwellings initially, rising to 7500 over time
• dwellings to be built to Code Level 3 of the government’s Code for Sustainable Homes 
• the initial 1160 affordable homes will be a mixture of tenure (rented, shared ownership and low cost by design).

BBC News - Detailed Cranbrook new town plans on council website

The Cranbrook Guardian: January 2011

The homes in the new community, all built to level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, will benefit from an eco-friendly district heating and hot water system powered using biomass fuel.
As well as the new primary school and community building, there will be a country park, new bus and cycle lanes, a new train station and major road improvements. 
Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Homes and Communities said: “We very much welcome the earlier than predicted completion of the first affordable homes at Cranbrook, which is a true testament to the commitment and hard work of all involved. I’m delighted at this important contribution to supporting EDDC’s affordable housing strategy.”

Much-needed affordable homes coming to Cranbrook ~ Social House Building and Maintenance News

> Under the Local Plan, the aim is that towns and communities should be sustainable:

15.3 The response to consultation and the Taylor Review of the Rural Economy and Affordable Housing supports the view that restrictive planning and shortages of affordable homes contribute to villages and hamlets becoming “unsustainable communities” and this would be against NPPF.

1.8 The Local Plan will be produced in accordance with Government guidance. Core strategies should: 
• be guided by sustainable development principles (sustainability appraisal will have an important role to play in this regard); 
• be linked to the sustainable communities agenda, helping determine the broad location of new housing and employment land necessary to meet the requirements of the regional spatial 

However, as an illustration, Jill mentioned that the village of Dulford voted against more affordable housing - which meant that its primary school had to close.

Exeter city of science | Exeter Science

Sustainability means the ability to work and live (buy or rent) locally - which should both reduce transport costs and increase earning power, for example with the new Science Park at Cranbrook.
Exeter Science Park - Exeter and East Devon Growth Point

Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: mixed development

Jill gave another example of the proposed development of Port Royal in Sidmouth - with commercial on the ground floor and residential above, offering a financially-viable project whilst minimising travel times.
See: Futures Forum: Port Royal future: ‘Let’s get the community on board’ 

In aiming to create 'balance communities', said Jill, the demographics of Sidmouth and East Devon means that people will have to consider downsizing as they grow older...

And Jill's point was further supported by colleague District Cllr Frances Newth of Sidmouth, who made it clear that to sustain communities, they had to be balanced - which meant supporting young people in their aspirations for jobs, housing and transport.

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