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Affordable Passivhaus in Somerset

  • by JW

Stirling Prize-winning architects behind “exemplar” application.

Councillors were getting “absolute earache” from residents but sometimes the council had to “grasp the bullet”.


A District Council in the South-West has committed to affordable Passivhaus housing:

Mikhail Riches has won planning permission for 52 Passivhaus homes in Nailsea, North Somerset. The Stirling Prize-winner has masterplanned three rows of semi-detached houses across a five-acre, L-shaped site by The Uplands, to the south of the town centre. The scheme is being developed by North Somerset Council and will be 30 per cent affordable, with 12 homes being social rent and three shared ownership, and 70 per cent sold at market rate. The scheme is supported by Home England’s Local authority Accelerated Construction funding.

Mikhail Riches gets green light for 52-home council-backed estate


However, it has not been without controversy:

Proposals submitted by North Somerset Council – the owner of the Uplands site and the decision maker – were hailed for their green credentials but opponents said it was “simply the wrong location”…

Councillors were warned that refusing the authority’s own “exemplar” application would send a “very difficult message”…

Nailsea West End’s Councillor James Tonkin told the planning meeting on February 17: “In 1976 the then owner of the land applied for planning permission to build but was refused on the grounds of overdevelopment. The land was bought by the then Woodspring council as public open space. Nothing has changed. Now we have an application for 52 houses, which no one in the locality wants. To make matters worse, the land immediately to the south of the site was granted planning permission at appeal for 450 dwellings. There’s another reason this site should remain a local oasis among all the other developments.”

But councillors were told that the Uplands land was owned by the council and its allocation for housing would help meet the shortfall in North Somerset…

Cllr John Ley-Morgan said aspects of the application were among the best he had seen but the site was too far from the town centre – and residents’ reliance on cars could counter the development’s eco-friendly ambitions…

Richard Kent, the council’s development chief, said the project would set an example to other developers, and warned that rejection of the authority’s own application would send a “very difficult” message. Cllr Peter Bryant said Nailsea councillors were getting “absolute earache” from residents but sometimes the council had to “grasp the bullet”.