Green developer unveils exciting plans for new homes in Kent

  • Development of 14 low-carbon homes will be good for the environment and help fund new training programmes for young people entering the worlds of horticulture and green construction
  • Proposals include a new public open space for villagers to enjoy
  • Traffic calming and road safety measures also planned

The regeneration of land and properties owned by The Bay Trust in St Margaret’s at Cliffe is a step closer following the announcement of plans to create 14 eco-friendly homes in the village.

The exciting scheme at St George’s Place promises to set new standards in the design of healthy, low-energy lifetime homes.

In 2013 following the culmination of years of meticulous planning and local consultations the charity agreed the sale of the land to a green developer.

Since then Pete Halsall and his team have shaped their plans resulting in a housing scheme that provides a variety of healthy and sustainable ‘lifetime homes’ for local people while ensuring the biodiversity of the site where the development is taking place is actually enhanced.

The scheme involves building 14 homes on a one acre patch of open land behind St Margaret’s Millennium Village Hall in Reach Road. To compensate for the loss of this private green space, the Bay Trust is proposing to spend around £160,000 creating a new public open space on land it owns north west of Sea Street, adjoining the village primary school.

Separate proposals are being created for traffic calming measures to address congestion and traffic safety concerns relating to the school’s pupils. The new public open space on Sea Street is nearly twice the size of the current private open space site in St George’s Place and is part of an area of farmland that, since 2009, the Bay Trust has managed organically for enhanced biodiversity and diversified local food production.

The Bay Trust has chosen one of the UK’s leading ‘green’ developers to lead the project. Former Deal schoolboy Pete Halsall is a nationally acclaimed expert in sustainable design and build schemes. The architect is Rod Springett who has years of experience in designing low energy homes in the UK and overseas.

Rod is a resident of the village and has created a landscaped layout to follow the Bay Trust’s own strict environmental requirements. The charity has stipulated that any scheme must result in an actual enhancement of biodiversity of the site. This will be monitored and supported by the Trust’s own team of experienced ecologists and horticulturalists and goes significantly beyond the statutory environmental requirements.

A planning application for St George’s Place has now been submitted to Dover District Council. If approved, work is expected to begin by the end of the year.

Pete Halsall explained that the application is a scaled-down version of what was originally proposed. When plans were first drawn up three years ago they included 27 homes on the St George’s Place site but the scheme has been remodelled following extensive consultations with residents.

“Concern was expressed about the number of homes, insufficient parking, traffic levels and the loss of green space on the site. We have listened carefully to this and made significant changes to the plans.

“The number of homes has been cut to 14, which will reduce traffic flow plus ease any concerns about parking for residents. And while the private green space in St George’s Place has had limited public use, the land being provided by the Trust at Sea Street will be available for a wider range of community uses and events.

Pete says,

“There is a clear need for additional housing in the village and feedback to these modifications has been very favourable.”

The Bay Trust is one of the UK’s leading environmental education charities, with a 46 year track record of preserving and enhancing biodiversity and leading a wide range of environmental education programmes. This work is spearheaded by a team based at Rippledown outdoor learning centre at Ringwould. During the past 12 months more than 3,000 primary school-age children have benefited from the ‘Rippledown Effect’ while the team is now expanding its local reach with new outdoor based programmes for secondary school children and young adults being run from various locations, including within the Doverdistrict.

Within St Margaret’s village the Trust runs the Pines Calyx events venue, the Pines Garden, museum and tea room. At the Pines Garden the charity runs a programme of apprenticeships and internships leading to career paths in horticulture and sustainable building, plus skills training for the long-term unemployed.

With the expansion of this and other programmes the Trust needs additional facilities and resources. Revenue generated by the St George’s Place scheme will help fund new facilities at Rippledown, including the completion of a Rural Skills Training Building, plus the planned expansion of catering training facilities at Rippledown and at the Pines Garden.

Since 2002, the charity has been working on a programme for the regeneration of its land and investment properties, a process shaped by regular consultations locally with the parish and district councils and with regional stakeholders including Protect Kent and the Kent Downs AONB Unit.

The Bay Trust’s Executive Director, Charles Bicker, says:

“The plans for St George’s Place have been carefully shaped to maximise a range of positive environmental and social impacts locally. Any future financial returns will be invested in a range of charitable initiatives we are working on within the district.”

Pete Halsall is a highly experienced sustainable developer, described by Building magazine as ‘Britain’s most committed green builder’. He says East Kent Sustainable Homes combine architecture, art and ecology to create new homes in friendly, healthy and sustainable communities. Our vision is for the modernBritish home to be a 21st Century exemplar of beauty, sustainability and health.

Pete says:

“These will be the first of a new generation of low-energy and sustainable housing projects in the UK, creating a new model for others to follow.”

The proposals for Sea Street, which are being discussed with KCC and other statutory bodies, will also help to improve pedestrian access to the primary school and act as a traffic calming measure for vehicles using the busy road.

For more information about the proposals visit www.eastkentsustainablehomes.co.uk

For more information about the work of The Bay Trust visit www.baytrust.org.uk

St George’s Place development
The 14 properties proposed for St George’s Place are a mix of two, three, four and five bedroom homes. They will be designed so that the interiors can be adapted, by the use of timber frame structures, to suit an owner’s changing needs as they grow older. This, together with climate adaptive features, will make them more ‘future-proof’.

They will be built to level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes using a high performance breathable timber frame system. They will be clad with a combination of local brick and timber weatherboarding. The walls will have landscape and planting features such as ‘lavender panels’ and green wall features and window boxes.

They will be designed so they have high levels of natural daylight, good ventilation and air quality, good space standards and a number of great architectural features. Each will incorporate a very high efficiency heating system and a PV panel which will feed into a dedicated smart grid system.

An innovative heating and ventilation system will be installed into each home, ensuring they stay cool and comfortable in summer and warm and cosy in winter.

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) will be a feature of the development creating an environment around the homes that allows surface water run-off through collection, storage and cleaning before allowing it to be released slowly back into the earth, such as into water courses or into the water table. A shallow wetland area is proposed along one boundary, providing a great habitat for wildlife.

Existing mature trees will be retained and re-planned to create a forest garden, while the site will be enhanced for wildlife by new planting, strengthening the boundary vegetation, and adding roosting features for bats and nesting birds. A portion of the current green space at the front of the site adjoining Reach Road will remain as a green open space.

The developer will seek to recruit local people to work on the project, with an emphasis on involving young people. An innovative training programme will be created by working with contractors, the supply chain and local schools and colleges.

This will help raise awareness of the development and its sustainability and green credentials and also to educate young people about the possibilities of architecture, construction and development as positive career choices. Events will be hosted with the Bay Trust at the Pines Calyx.

There will also be an opportunity to create training courses, briefing materials, a video and apprenticeships which give young people the chance to obtain a construction skill around sustainable building and design. A focus will be to equip trainees with multiple skills – so-called ‘green collar multi-skilled working’.