HRH The Princess Royal officially opens Keyte Gardens

Warwickshire Rural Housing Association (WRHA) welcomed HRH The Princess Royal to officially open its ground-breaking new development in Wootton Wawen on 25th September.

Working in partnership with Morton Wykes Kramer Architects, Bouygues UK, Waterloo Housing Group and Homes England, WRHA has completed Keyte Gardens, Warwickshire’s first Passivhaus development of affordable homes.

HRH The Princess Royal was greeted by flag-waving pupils from Years 4 and 5 at Wootton Wawen CofE Primary School, before being welcomed by Deputy Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Mrs Janet Smith JP, DL.

The Princess was introduced to Clare Sawdon, High Sheriff of Warwickshire, and other local dignitaries, as well as key individuals who have helped this ambitious development come to fruition including Cllr John Cooke, Chairman of Warwickshire County Council; Cllr Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Derrick Dyas, Chairman of Warwickshire Rural Housing Association.

HRH then visited some of the new residents who have recently moved in to their ultra-low energy homes. First, The Princess called on Christine Hughes who decided to move into a bungalow at Keyte Gardens when her previous home and garden in Wootton Wawen became too much for her to manage alone.

Next, The Princess Royal visited Nathan and Rebecca Crowe and their daughters, Annabelle aged four and Charlotte, aged two. The Crowe family have watched the development progressing from day one and were keen to move into a more spacious home with somewhere for their two daughters to play outside.

During light refreshments, The Princess met residents and guests who have been involved in this community-led development, before formally opening Keyte Gardens. A wooden sculpture featuring a bee design to honour Denis Keyte, the development’s namesake, was unveiled.

Denis a celebrated beekeeper and gardener, who passed away in May 2017, was born in the village in 1929 and was a highly regarded member of the community.

Local pupils, four-year-old Annabelle and nine-year-old Matthew, then proudly presented a posy to The Princess.

A total of 14 affordable homes have been built at Keyte Gardens to the rigorous Passivhaus standard.

Developed in Germany in the early 1990s, Passivhaus focuses on creating a building which is as energy efficient as possible to reduce its environmental footprint. The homes have been built specifically for people with a local connection to the village either through family or work.

Morton Wykes Kramer Architects were involved in a seven-year research and development project to bring these exceptionally low energy homes to the affordable housing sector where fuel poverty is a key issue.

The aim was to achieve space heating costs which are 70 per cent less than in standard house construction to keep fuel bills low for residents. The homes have perfect North – South orientation for maximum solar gain during the winter months, have superior levels of insulation and air tightness, and include innovative features such as air source heat pumps; a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system to provide constant filtered fresh air and recessed and shaded tripled glazed windows to reduce overheating during the summer.

Funding of £460,000 was agreed with Stratford-on-Avon District Council, along with £350,000 from Homes England through the Affordable Housing Programme. Local family business, Allens Caravans, made the land available at a reasonable rate which made the development of 12 properties for affordable rent and 2 for shared ownership viable.

Karl Tupling, General Manager for Homes England in the Midlands, said: “Homes England is committed to working in partnership with organisations to enable the delivery of homes to meet the needs of local communities. The funding that we provided has not only helped to deliver much needed affordable housing for people in Wootton Wawen, but thanks to the Passivhaus standard achieved, will ensure residents’ monthly energy bills are kept to a minimum.”

The innovative development has just been shortlisted in the Best Green Scheme category of the 24housing Awards 2018 which celebrate excellence across the housing sector.

Speaking at the opening, Derrick Dyas, Chairman of Warwickshire Rural Housing Association, said: “Keyte Gardens embodies the very epitome of partnership working with local communities to achieve affordable housing for local people.

“The Parish Plan called for new development which embodies the latest thinking in energy efficiency to help reduce fuel poverty. This struck a chord with our objectives and, as a result, we proposed this exciting scheme which has been developed to the challenging Passivhaus standard. The importance of what we have achieved here must not go unrecognised.”

Images © Paul Nicholls

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