Skip to main content

Passivhaus development which heats homes for just £25 a year is first development of its kind to achieve Secured by Design Gold Award for security

A development of 72 innovative new homes, which are so eco-friendly they require virtually no heating, are also some of the most secure thanks to Secured by Design (SBD), the national police crime prevention initiative, which builds in proven crime prevention techniques.

The homes at Primrose Park, Plymouth, have been developed by Mi-space, part of the Midas Group, one of the UK’s largest independent construction and property service providers, for Plymouth Community Homes (PCH), the city’s largest social housebuilder.

The £11.6million development off Bodmin Road, Whitleigh, is the first site in Plymouth to be built to Passivhaus design principles and is believed to be one of the largest low-energy Passivhaus developments in the country.

Pioneered in Germany in the 1990s, Passivhaus innovations avoid the need for a traditional heating system in favour of high levels of insulation, which wraps around the house like a tea cosy, an airtight envelope that eliminates draughts, triple glazing on windows and external doors and a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system.

This system recovers heat from the air in each room before extracting the stale air and warming up the incoming fresh air. It means that heat can be generated from passive measures, which include occupants’ body heat and the warmth generated from light bulbs, which serve to reduce reliance on the heating system during winter.

The homes’ excellent thermal and energy performance means they are not only eco-friendly by reducing dependence on fossil fuels but also help to tackle fuel poverty by keeping energy bills low. For example, Mi-space calculate that a household living in a 70m² Passivhaus with gas heating could spend as little as £25 on space heating each year.

Ian Farrell, Divisional Director, Mi-space, said: “This is an incredibly interesting and innovative scheme, which has attracted considerable interest from the industry. We regard it as a trailblazer. Passivhaus techniques improve insulation through excellent thermal performance and high quality air sealing with mechanical ventilation. It’s a standard that can be adopted for use in a wide range of sectors including commercial, industrial and public buildings as well as residential dwellings.”

The development of 23 homes to buy through shared ownership and 49 for affordable rent, which were built on the site of the former Hillside and Woodlands School, include crime prevention measures and techniques that meet SBD standards.

It is the first Passivhaus development in the UK to receive an SBD Gold Award, which is given for incorporating proven crime prevention techniques into the layout and landscaping, such as to increase natural surveillance and limit through movement, and the physical security of buildings, such as the installation of SBD accredited attack resistant doors, windows and locks.

For example, the doors and windows on this development have been provided by PCH’s uPVC manufacturing company, PCH Manufacturing, which has achieved SBD’s Police Preferred Specification accreditation. This means these products are sufficiently robust to resist attack from casual or opportunist burglars.

SBD accreditation requires companies to be certified by an independent, third-party UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) certification authority, which requires regular re-testing and production audits to ensure manufacturers’ processes are maintained over time rather than one-off testing. SBD is the only way for companies to obtain Police accreditation in the UK.

Police guidance has come from the Plymouth-based Designing Out Crime Officer, Paul Shepherd, who is part of a national network of SBD trained police officers and staff who work to design out crime. Paul Shepherd took part in many pre-planning application meetings with Plymouth-based architects, Mitchell Architects, to discuss incorporating crime prevention techniques into the development.

Independent academic research has shown that homes built to incorporate SBD crime prevention techniques have been proven to reduce crime by as much as 75% in new build developments compared to equivalent non-SBD estates.

Emma Snow, SBD Development Officer for the South West, said: “I am thrilled we have been involved to make this exciting and pioneering development secure for incoming residents. Our experience over the last 30 years shows that our techniques will deter criminals and reduce crime. This can only serve to ease the pressure on hard-pressed police resources and reduce repair and maintenance costs for property management companies.”

Andrew Lawrie, Head of Development, at PCH, said: “This development demonstrates PCH’s commitment to the environment and our wish to reduce running costs for residents of affordable housing. We know many residents struggle with fuel bills so these homes should go a long way to addressing that. It’s reassuring to know that our safety measures have been recognised by Secured by Design. We know that feeling safe in their homes is important to residents.”

Richard White, of Mitchell Architects, said: “Passivhaus philosophies are good for the environment, good for the health of people and tackles that perpetual problem of fuel poverty. The design principle with Primrose Park was to try to encourage family and neighbourly engagement, an idea which lies at the very heart of helping to promote safe communities.”

In keeping with the on-site environmental credentials, Mi-space recycles 100% of its waste so that nothing goes to landfill.