Founder of Passivhaus visits groundbreaking new Camden Council homes

The founder of the Passivhaus environmental concept for buildings was in North London on Wed 6 February to visit Camden Council’s Chester Balmore construction site in Highgate.  The site of the largest residential development in the UK built to Passivhaus standards.  

Professor Wolfgang Feist visited the Chester Balmore development of 53 homes which is under construction by Willmott Dixon for Camden Council ,with design work by Rick Mather Architects.  As members of the Passivhaus Trust, Willmott Dixon invited Professor Feist to see progress on the site, which is due to be completed in the Summer.

The homes at Chester Balmore are the first that Camden Council has built in 20 years and are being delivered as part of their Community Investment Programme that aims to provide 500 new Council rented homes, 200 shared ownership homes, 400 replacement Council homes and invest £115 in schools over the next five years.  Funding for the project is delivered from the sale of private homes within the development.

The site in Highgate previously comprised of  25 homes of low quality and poor condition, together with under-used retail units.  The £9.25m development will provide 53 new homes, with 23 for social rent, four for intermediate shared ownership and 26 for market sale.  

The homes are being constructed to the extremely high environmental standards that Passivhaus demands, and will achieve a minimum of 75% reduction in heating requirements compared to standard practices for new build homes in the UK.  They will be exceptionally insulated and airtight so that minimum energy is required to keep residents warm or cool.  

Councillor Julian Fulbrook, Camden Council cabinet member for housing, said:

“These homes are a milestone for Camden Council as the first ones we have built since 1999 and as the start of one of the largest house building programmes of any Local Authority in the country. This is in the context of government cuts to Camden of more than £200m to our capital funding.”

“I am delighted that we have been able not just to build these new homes but to build them to such high environmental standards. I’m looking forward to the first residents moving in and benefiting from the innovative design and reduced heating costs.” 

Jeremy Graham, Willmott Dixon project director, said: 

“This will really set the standard for sustainable new homes that cut residents’ fuel bills owing to vastly reduced energy use in Passivhaus structures. I think following the work here you will see more Passivhaus developments springing up in London as the benefits for households become clearer. Camden is to be applauded for choosing the Passivhaus option and creating a template for others to follow.”