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Special Briefing 1
September 2010


eco-development
                                  co-development
                                   group
                                  newsletter




                                                                                                               eco-development group newsletter: special briefing 1
demonstrator projects
                                                     Rackheath



                               North-West
                                 Bicester




                                       Whitehill Bordon
   St Austell
 Clay Country



First-wave eco-development locations


This Eco-Development Group Newsletter Special Briefing sets out highlights from the demonstrator projects
in the first wave of eco-developments. These pilot demonstrator projects show how local authorities,
communities and delivery partners, working in partnership, can lead by example in creating energy-efficient,
affordable and desirable new homes and in developing new skills and low-carbon enterprise. Eco-
developments must aim to meet – and where possible exceed – pioneering and stretching sustainability
standards on affordable and high-quality housing, inclusive public spaces and biodiversity, as well as
contributing to the revitalisation of existing communities.

The TCPA co-ordinates the Eco-Development Group (EDG) to share best practice between local authorities
developing the first wave of eco-developments. Members of the EDG include Cornwall Council, East
Hampshire District Council, Hampshire County Council, Broadland District Council, Norfolk County Council,
Cherwell District Council, and Oxfordshire County Council. The councils’ proposals for innovative
demonstrator projects, supported by central government funding for growth, are detailed in this briefing.
While some of these pioneering pilot projects are already under way, providing a useful indication of the
ambition and direction of travel of first wave eco-developments, others are subject to the response of the
local community and the planning process.
                                                       North-West Bicester, Oxfordshire (Cherwell District Council)
                                                       Creating an exemplar eco-development in North-West Bicester in Oxfordshire offers an opportunity to
                                                       re-position Bicester as a place where new communities are built to high environmental standards and
                                                       where people across the town can enjoy more sustainable lifestyles built on features such as high-quality
                                                       public transport and zero-carbon technologies. The consultation draft Eco Bicester Vision, prepared by the
                                                       Eco Bicester Strategic Delivery Board, has recently been launched to seek the views of the local community.
                                                       It aims to guide the town as it grows as a low-carbon community, and it sets out the aspirations for the
                                                       future development of the town as a whole. As part of the preparation of a shared vision for Bicester, a
                                                       public consultation is taking place between 23 August and 1 October 2010 with publicity in the local press
                                                       and a consultation event in Bicester town centre. An online consultation has been set up to help local
                                                       residents, community groups and businesses feed back their views.

                                                       Highlights of the demonstrator projects:
                                                       G   A new high-eco-standard sixth-form block for the Cooper School in Bicester is under construction. It will
                                                           demonstrate a number of green measures, including a solar roof, ground source heat pumps, greywater
                                                           recycling, air heat recovery, and triple-glazing.
eco-development group newsletter: special briefing 1




                                                       G   An exhibition eco-home in Bicester town centre will demonstrate the newest technologies, including
                                                           PassivHaus standards, and will provide a space for consultation events and environmental education.
                                                           Construction begins in September 2010.
                                                       G   A travel behaviour project has started. Elements of this include an Oxfordshire car share database and a
                                                           travel survey being launched in September. Public transport improvements will include a pedestrian-only
                                                           route from Bicester North railway station to the town centre, with enhanced railway crossing facilities for
                                                           walkers and cyclists, and extended bus routes with the provision of real-time travel information.
                                                       G   A large number of properties in the existing town will be retrofitted, bringing them up to improved energy
                                                           efficiency and insulation standards and so saving emissions and cutting energy costs.
                                                       G   400 new eco-homes are planned on the eco-development site to test how eco-requirements can be met
                                                           for the site as a whole. The planning application for this will be submitted by the end of 2010.



                                                       St Austell Clay Country, Cornwall (Cornwall Council)
                                                       In Cornwall the aim is to take advantage of the opportunity to create an eco-community that will deliver
                                                       radical change for the county’s Clay Country area and open up a bright new future for all. As part of a wider
                                                       regeneration and green growth vision for Cornwall, the aim is to make the new St Austell Clay Country eco-
                                                       community a thriving rural community, with a strong economy and a sustainable environment, using land
                                                       restored from disused clay extraction sites.

                                                       Highlights of the demonstrator projects:
                                                       G   A demonstrator project of 30 supported housing apartments will be constructed to high environmental
                                                           standards within St Austell town centre. On-site renewables (photovoltaics, solar thermal, micro-
                                                           generation and ground /air source heat pumps) will be used in the building process. The legal agreement
                                                           was signed in June 2010, and a planning application was submitted at the end of July. Demolition of
                                                           existing property is due in October 2010, and the project completion date is May 2012.
                                                       G   The local college will offer apprenticeships and will develop into a centre of excellence for sustainable
                                                           construction for the South West, offering training and providing sustained economic regeneration in the area.
                                                       G   A retrofitted display eco-home located in the centre of St Austell will offer information on low-carbon living
                                                           to residents and school pupils and will help local businesses to link into the low-carbon market. The eco fit-
                                                           out specification is complete, and the exchange of property contract is due on 11 October. The display unit
                                                           will be launched in January 2011.
                                                       G   A multi-functional community hub will be run by the Eden Project to offer community education projects
                                                           and act as a showcase for new environmental technologies, local materials and resources. The legal
                                                           agreement is currently with the applicants for consideration.

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G   A new transport hub in the centre of the town will be created to include zero-carbon bus shelters, bicycle
    storage and electric bicycle charging points and to showcase smart technology and the best design
    principles. This will be linked to a network of similar bus stops, accessible green infrastructure, enhanced
    train stations, and park and ride facilities, all aimed at reducing the need for use of private cars. The
    Service Level Agreement has been signed, and the first stage of development is complete.
G   The improvement in the public transport infrastructure will be underpinned by new sustainable buses and
    a state-of-the-art, real-time passenger information system available at bus stops and park and ride and
    town centre car parks, through internet and mobile phone links, and with scope for display screens in
    each new eco-home. The business case for the real-time passenger information system is currently being
    appraised, and the business case for the sustainable buses is due in September.
G   Cornwall Council estimates that at least 500 training places, including apprenticeships, will be provided
    over the build-out period of the eco-development.



Rackheath, Norfolk (Broadland District Council)




                                                                                                                       eco-development group newsletter: special briefing 1
In Norfolk the proposed eco-community at Rackheath, less than five miles from Norwich city centre and
easily linked to the city itself, is set within local authority plans for the future growth of the Norwich area. The
ambition is to make Rackheath a mixed-use community offering employment, day-to-day services, and public
transport, in addition to decent affordable houses. Good design, using a significant amount of open space,
will ensure that the eco-community delivers the high quality of life that Broadland residents value.
Renewable energy technologies will be incorporated into the development to help the eco-community
achieve a low-carbon way of life.

Highlights of the demonstrator projects:
G   Broadland District Council is currently consulting its community on an exemplar of 200 eco-homes, sited
    on 19 acres of land next to the village of Rackheath. The exemplar will demonstrate a range of house
    types and technologies which would achieve Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) Level 6 for water and
    energy and minimum CSH Level 4 for all other elements. New facilities could include allotments, a
    multi-purpose community building, a small shop or community enterprise, play equipment, and sports
    facilities.
G   The timeframe for the delivery of the Rackheath exemplar project spans from the public engagement,
    which commenced on 22 August (and runs to 30 October), to the design work taking place in the autumn
    and a planning application expected in the summer 2011. Subject to the response of the local community
    and the planning process, on-site work will start in early 2012.
G   Grants will be made available for residents to adapt their homes to reduce carbon emissions and energy
    bills. Grants are to be paid back when the house is sold, creating a sustainable fund for future grant aid.
G   A proposed personal carbon trading scheme would be the first of its kind, rewarding residents for low
    energy usage.
G   Residents in new homes will be offered information to help them get the most out of built-in innovative
    features.
G   Environmental education projects in local schools and a new education centre will encourage people of all
    ages to get involved in sustainable living.
G   Rackheath will lead the way nationally as a behaviour change and learning exemplar, drawing on the
    unique expertise of the University of East Anglia.
G   The new settlement seeks to reduce residents’ reliance on the car, so funding will contribute to the
    development of new bus rapid transport links and cycle routes.
G   The eco-development will include a pioneering joint project undertaken with the Environment Agency to
    identify the most suitable means of delivering the communities’ water needs for their business, domestic
    and leisure use, through a sustainable water strategy.



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                                                       Whitehill Bordon, Hampshire (East Hampshire District Council)
                                                       Whitehill Bordon, a town of 14,000 located in East Hampshire, is set within countryside about 45 miles from
                                                       London and a 40-minute drive from the sea. The town has grown around a Ministry of Defence (MoD)
                                                       presence. The Whitehill Bordon eco-development presents an opportunity to achieve a number of objectives
                                                       – meeting the clear need for better local facilities; helping the community to protect the natural
                                                       environment; and providing affordable and decent homes. Whitehill Bordon is the first of the eco-
                                                       developments to publish a draft masterplan which shows an overall vision for the town. It will ensure that
                                                       development takes place in a considered manner while making sure that community facilities are provided
                                                       and the environment is protected. It shows how growth and change could occur in the town over the next
                                                       20-25 years. Two consultation events have taken place since it was published, with publicity on local radio,
                                                       on the front pages of local papers, and in an article in the council’s magazine, which is distributed to every
                                                       home in the district.

                                                       Highlights of the demonstrator projects:
                                                       G   A disused MoD fire station has been bought by East Hampshire District Council and a planning application
                                                           has been lodged for its conversion into community and training facilities. This ‘eco-station’ will offer
eco-development group newsletter: special briefing 1




                                                           information on local and natural history and will be powered by a biomass boiler.
                                                       G   Outline planning permission has been given for the town’s first exhibition eco-home, being designed by
                                                           Riches Hawley Mikhail Architects to demonstrate how houses can be built to save energy and ultimately
                                                           cut fuel bills. Pupils from Bordon Junior School have been on site with the architects to learn more about
                                                           eco-homes, mapping out the design of the house in the grounds of the fire station (where it will be built)
                                                           and making drawings of what their ideal eco-home would look like.
                                                       G   A rail feasibility study is currently assessing whether there is a viable business case for a heavy or light rail
                                                           service to Bordon. Further transport improvements will include improvements to bus services, a cycle hire
                                                           scheme, electric car charging points, and improved walking and cycling routes.
                                                       G   Community involvement is being increased. Greater transparency will see the Whitehill Bordon
                                                           Opportunity Executive Group replaced with a new ‘delivery board’, which will have an independent
                                                           chairman. These improvements will make the meetings more open and democratically accountable.
                                                       G   There will also be changes to the groups which report to the new delivery board so that there is more
                                                           opportunity for the community to influence the project. The Policy Advisory Groups (PAGs) will be replaced
                                                           with ‘sub-groups’ – and all members of the PAGs can join these. Residents and councillors, from the town
                                                           and surrounding villages, will be encouraged to join the new sub-groups. The sub-group meetings will be
                                                           held in public and will include local representatives. They will also undertake more technical aspects of
                                                           work and will make recommendations to the delivery board. Residents will also have an opportunity to
                                                           give their comments and ideas to the delivery board ahead of the quarterly meeting via a ‘standing
                                                           conference’ that will be held before the main decision-making meetings.
                                                       G   Funding has been allocated to provide free loft and cavity wall insulation to existing homes, which
                                                           residents can sign-up for now. There are also interest-free loans of up to £10,000 each for energy-saving
                                                           improvements. The cost of the loan repayments and new fuel bills should be less than the original fuel bills.
                                                       G   Hampshire County Council will soon be starting its demonstration programme to improve the energy
                                                           efficiency of its schools and other public buildings in the town, such as the library. The programme is being
                                                           developed in close consultation with the local schools. The aim is to engage all the schoolchildren in the
                                                           town and harness their energy and enthusiasm for this project. The outcomes will be shared with other
                                                           schools and local authorities across the country – as well as with central government.

                                                       For further information about the demonstrator projects and to find out more about the Eco-
                                                       Development Group, please contact:

                                                       Alex House, Eco-Development Group Co-ordinator
                                                       Town and Country Planning Association, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AS
                                                       e: alex.house@tcpa.org.uk
                                                       t: 020 7930 8903
                                                       w: www.tcpa.org.uk

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