UK: Work to Start on Kevin McCloud's Hemp Housing Scheme

By Jon Land, 24dash

UK: Work to Start on Kevin McCloud's Hemp Housing Scheme Work is due to start on an innovative green housing development in Swindon that is the brainchild of 'Grand Designs' presenter Kevin McCloud.

HabOakus, a partnership between Kevin McCloud's development company Hab Housing and Oakus Wiltshire, has been given approval to build 42 homes that will meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, but with the potential for upgrading to zero carbon status.

The scheme, called the Triangle, is due to be built from Tradical Hemcrete, the innovative hemp and lime thermal walling system developed by Lime Technology.

Tradical Hemcrete, is a mix of hemp and a lime binder, which together create a material that combines sustainability with performance. The product absorbs CO2 in its manufacture (hemp, in common with all similar plants, captures carbon dioxide during its rapid growth and releases oxygen back out to the atmosphere) so has negative embodied CO2. For a typical wall section, Hemcrete will have 130kg CO2/m² less than traditional brick and block.

Designed by Glenn Howells Architects, The Triangle will be built on the site of a former caravan park and plant nursery, just off Swindon’s Northern Road.

Due to start on site in January 2010, with completion scheduled by December 2010, HabOakus hopes to ensure the sustainable development acts as a springboard to introduce green initiatives locally.

A mixed tenure scheme, consisting of homes for sale, shared ownership and affordable renting, The Triangle is being used as a prototype for HabOakus’s proposed larger second scheme which will see the delivery of around 200 homes at Pickard’s Small Field, Gorse Hill, Swindon.

Kevin McCloud, said: "While the architecture of our development is deliberately low-key, there are many aspects of the scheme – a 42 unit community on land to the rear of Northern Road in Swindon - which fly in the face of conventional planning.

"We are introducing sustainable drainage systems and building in hemp. Most controversially, we are providing far fewer parking spaces than would usually be the case.

"Instead we are relying on community car clubs, good public transport services and outstanding cycling facilities to alleviate the demand for second and third cars.

"Swindon’s Head of Planning Dave Potter summed up the challenge faced by the committee when he said ‘we were considerably exercised by this application as there is simply no precedent for it in the Swindon area’.

"So it was a surprise, as well as an enormous relief, when the project was approved by eight votes to two. This is a test cast for Swindon, and it took courage to give us their support. Our job now is to make sure that their courage reaps rewards."