Work begins on council’s first award-winning Passivhaus site

Denise Craghill and building workers in front of a digger at Duncombe Barracks site

Work has begun to build the council’s first Passivhaus homes at the council’s award-winning Duncombe Barracks site.

The 34 new Passivhaus homes support low carbon lifestyles in a beautiful, low-traffic setting. It is the first Passivhaus site to be built under the council’s Housing Delivery Programme, providing a minimum 40% affordable homes.

This programme won the 2022 Housing category at the Local Government Chronicle annual awards, a national Housing Design Award 2022 last month, and a Royal Town Planning Institute Yorkshire Award for Planning Excellence as the Best Plan, and a Planning Award for Best Housing Scheme (fewer than 500 homes) and for Design Excellence

This first phase of Passivhaus construction by the council is being carried out by contractor Caddick Construction. It involves building the housing foundations, together with drainage works, and constructing the site’s internal roads and temporary site offices. The site road’s foundations are being built from rubble recycled from the few demolished, unused buildings on the site which saves on materials, transport and labour. The new pathways and routes will include a new car-free route through Duncombe Barracks and the neighbouring Persimmon site at Bootham Crescent, to connect Burton Stone Lane and Grosvenor Road. 

In 2023, the first above ground construction will become visible which will include a show complex on the ground floor community hub. The complex will have a sales office and an innovation centre with a temporary exhibition about Passivhaus homes. The exhibition will explain their construction and benefits: how they’re built and how they work; how residents have the benefit of being warm in winter and cool in summer with fresh clean air circulating; why they are cheap to run and use zero carbon to support climate change. There will also be two show homes to visit.

As part of the landscaped spaces within the development, 79 new trees will be planted. That’s 69 more trees than were originally on the site. The species will include apple trees, field maples and juneberry trees which together will provide springtime blossom, shade in the summer, fruit and autumn colour.

The show homes are scheduled to open in autumn 2023 and the overall project will complete in 2024.

Cllr Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Communities at City of York Council, said: “This first Passivhaus site of our Housing Delivery Programme comes with big ambitions. These, our first zero carbon in use homes, aim to help inspire more climate sensitive homes to be designed and built. Importantly, by allocating at least 40% of this site for shared ownership and social housing, we’re delivering twice the planning requirements for affordable homes.

“Being set in a landscape which encourages communities to develop and thrive, these new homes build on the city’s rich history as a housing pioneer.”

Richard Greenwood, Caddick Construction’s Director of Housing, said: “We are delighted to be on site for this project which is already award-winning following its success in the Housing Design Awards earlier this year.

“It’s also exciting to be working on something that not only delivers high quality Passivhaus standard homes for York, but will hopefully inspire and encourage future developments to follow suit and take up green technology alongside other net carbon building methods.”

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