Greens propose zero-energy housing for council site

12 October 2017

A former school site in Clifton could be transformed into the city's first carbon-free ‘Passivhaus’ housing development with up to 25 new homes. York’s Green councillors propose that the council should specify ‘Passivhaus’ design standards on the proposed housing development, on the site of the former Clifton Without Junior School on Rawcliffe Lane, making it a model pilot for future developments around the city. The Clifton Without Junior School building is on the site of the Vale of York Academy has been unused for over two years due to the school no longer needing the space and accelerating maintenance costs.

City of York Council is currently asking for residents views on a change of use for housing to be built on the site. Green Group Leader Cllr Andy D'Agorne welcomes the additional provision of much-needed homes in Clifton Without. He said: “We suggest that the council should specify that all new homes and buildings on the site must be constructed to the highest levels of insulation, so that this development can act as an example of modern Passivhaus home-building projects that will inform the public and set a benchmark for future housing in the city on larger council owned sites such as Manor School and the former Askham Bar park and ride site. Green Cllr Lars Kramm added:

“We would like to see the council explore this option for low energy cost, mixed tenure housing through support from the strategic partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency. Passivhaus removes ‘fuel poverty’ and ensures tenants on low income are less likely to fall into rent arrears – social landlords elsewhere in the UK have found this to be the case. There is no reason why the council cannot decide to adopt more sustainable standards and propose them here”

The party has sought the views of Phil Bixby, local architect and builder of three Passivhaus in York who says:

“The layout and orientation of the site would definitely favour a Passivhaus development. The Passivhaus design and layout - which makes use of the sun both for internal heat gains when wanted and for photovoltaic installation to produce energy - could take Passivhaus standard up to effective zero carbon homes.” “I would welcome seeing City of York Council taking the lead on this standard of housing. Particularly if you're building social housing, it is very important that the people who live in that housing can afford to heat it," he says. "So if we're going to start building more council houses, let's do it properly!"

YOU CAN SEE FOR YOURSELF!: The UK Passivhaus Open Days are next month with three Passivhaus projects open in York – details again via the Passivhaus Trust! Link to as the source of all things Passivhaus in the UK.

Cllr Kramm said: “One objection against higher environmental standards is normally higher costs, but Passivhaus standards don’t necessarily mean more expensive buildings and higher building costs. There is a school in Wolverhampton with Passivhaus standards which had been built at no additional cost. There are also new techniques to build Passivhaus buildings in modular form with key components built off-site in factories. This also significantly helps reduce costs. Phil Bixby notes that a Passivhaus in York is currently 5-10 percent more expensive than one constructed to Building Regulations minimum. Nationally this is changing though as more people and councils adopt the standard, and developing design and construction skills locally would bring costs down faster in York.

The council’s consultation closes at midday on Tuesday 17 October 2017. Have your say by emailing your comments to or post your comments to: Assistant Director – Legal and Governance, City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA. Please quote Ref. GA/LPR1.8337 in your letter.