The £50 million new Oakfield community being built in Swindon by Mi-space was today showcased by the Nationwide Building Society as a potential national blueprint for housebuilders on how to create-energy efficient homes and communities for the future.
The brainchild of the Society, the Oakfield scheme aims to be one of Britain’s largest energy-efficient communities – a development where homes are built to leading environmental standards and future-proofed with a host of green innovations to help people live sustainably.
Nationwide, the world’s biggest building society, pledged to share all of its learnings and plans from the development in order to help create positive change and has called on Government, housebuilders and lenders to outline a roadmap which will help deliver homes that are more sustainable.
Mi-space, part of the Midas Group, one of the UK’s largest independent construction and property services providers, started work in 2020 on the project, which will create a thriving new community at the brownfield site, with 239 new homes to be developed, including 71 available for affordable housing.
Steve Hart, Divisional Director at Midas, said: “We are incredibly proud to be part of this trailblazing scheme and to be partnering with Nationwide as it looks to re-write the rule book on how to create sustainable homes and communities for the future.
“Every aspect of the Oakfield project is being considered in the finest detail and as a project team we are continually challenging ourselves as to how we can do things differently and better. It is a unique and exciting process which is drawing on our and our project partners’ experience of good practice, driving innovation and creating a knowledge base from which the wider industry can benefit,”
From the outset, Nationwide set out for Oakfield to be an exemplar scheme and to challenge the way housebuilding has traditionally been done. It will see all 239 homes hitting the EPC-A rating, the top level of energy efficiency, compared to a just a fraction of new properties built nationally currently meeting these standards.
It is also set to be one of Britain’s biggest off-gas housing developments, with all properties, including affordable housing, having photovoltaic solar panels and air source heat pumps, instead of a traditional gas boiler. And the project is designed with future green innovations in mind too, enabling residents to further green their homes, for example with batteries for surplus energy storage. The development will also be ready for electric cars – charging points will be provided on the street, and homes with on-plot parking will be wired to allow residents to install their own charging points.
Sara Bennison, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Nationwide Building Society, said the Society hoped this new approach to creating community-focused, more environmentally-friendly homes would be the start of a blueprint for newbuild homes across the UK.
She said: “Just a fraction of new homes in the UK are built to an EPC-A rated standard. Creating homes today which aren’t fit for the future and will need to be retrofitted in a matter of years is simply not right. We will be calling for Government, house builders and lenders to work together to tackle any remaining barriers to improving the environmental standards of new homes.
“Buildings are the second largest source of emissions in the UK. Creating sustainable communities is possible and we are demonstrating this through our Oakfield development – delivering one of the greenest communities in the UK at scale. We all need to play our part in delivering high quality homes that are fit for the future. We will be sharing all our learnings and plans helping developers commit to a clear roadmap for more a sustainable future.
“In addition, with more than 1.5 million homes on our mortgage balance sheet, we are also developing new products to help our members make a real difference to the environment by making improvements to existing properties. Together we can tackle the climate crisis and we are committed to helping our members to create greener and more sustainable homes.”
Work on the Oakfield development began on site in April 2020. Construction is expected to take about three and a half years, with the first phase of new homes being completed in Spring 2022.