Client: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Main Contractor: Mears New Homes Ltd Architect: Rock Townsend
Building Control: Hertfordshire Building Control (HBC)
The redevelopment of Garden Avenue and Furzen Crescent is part of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Councils Affordable Housing Programme Delivery Plan. It has generated the first new homes directly provided by the council in over 20 years. Lilac Close (formerly Furzen Crescent) is a collection of seven two bed houses and Lime Tree Court (previously known as Garden Avenue) is a mix of 22 one and two-bed flats. Adopting a ‘mews’ approach, the developments combine an established, traditional typology with a contemporary feel. Stylish, practical and energy efficient, meeting current best practice standards and the enhanced HQI spatial standards and Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, the developments are traditional, creating simple forms with good proportions and considered detailing
Hertfordshire Building Control worked with council teams at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, architects Rock Townsend and construction partners Mears New Homes to deliver both projects.
The Senior Building Control Officer Michael Joseph oversaw the Building Regulations process from pre-application advice to completion on site. The plans were detailed and easy to check for compliance. All matters raised on the amendment schedule were readily addressed to achieve compliance. This included pre-application advice recommending the need for a suitable fire suppression system for the dwellings in Furzen Crescent and dry risers for the block of flats in Garden Avenue.
The proposed developments were constructed using high quality long lasting materials. The SAP calculations proved that the houses were built with an incredibly low carbon emission rate, in that the design emission rate was 20% lower than the target emission rate achieved by high standard thermal insulation and PV panels. The dwellings achieved extremely low air leakage rates.
On-site communication was excellent. Daily requests for inspections were carried out promptly. Details of drawings on site were regularly reviewed when possible difficulties were anticipated. During his site inspection service, Michael studied any issues and presented Mears/Rock Townsend with solutions for a way forward. If anything was picked up as non-compliant a resolution was quickly reached on site, such as discussing and agreeing on the tanking details where the adjacent ground level was significantly higher than the finished floor level. Hertfordshire Building Control’s advice was appreciated which enabled Mears/Rick Townsend to make informed decisions on time and to schedule.
Garden Avenue, Hatfield
The scheme of 22 new affordable homes built on a former garage site at Garden Avenue has improved the area and helped to tackle historic issues such as anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping. The homes have been constructed to meet Lifetime Home Standard, and all can be easily adaptable for lifetime use at minimal cost if a tenant’s needs change. Technical challenges were considered from the outset and steps taken to de-risk and embed value. Furthermore, simple detailing and brickwork maximise affordability while delivering high-quality flats. Special attention was given to energy efficiency to ensure lower fuel bills for tenants. The flats all have access to a secure communal garden, and the majority have their own terrace or balcony. One of the flats is fully adapted for a wheelchair user, with its own garden and carport.
Tenant Jodie Simmons, said: “We couldn’t believe we were offered something this nice in the perfect location for our jobs and being close to our families.”
Furzen Crescent, Hatfield
The 7 new two bedroom homes at former Furzen Crescent have provided much needed smaller family-sized affordable accommodation for social rent for local people, built with an emphasis on high quality, tenure-blind specification. Designed to enable independent, flexible and adaptable living, features include space for a through floor lift and a route for a tracking hoist should there be a need in the future. The design, layout and physical security of the homes received the Secured by Design Silver certification. The buildings meet all current best practice standards, enhanced HQI spatial standards and Lifetime Homes.
New tenant Ella Jones, said: “The house is lovely, it doesn’t feel like a council house. I’m very happy.”
The judges at the Hertfordshire Building Futures Awards 2018 commended the quality of design saying
“The quality of design and thought sets a precedent for council development, showing what a pared-down functional play on traditional forms can achieve. Small is beautiful.”
Most noteworthy, the development went on to receive the award for Design Excellence.
Cllr Tony Kingsbury, the Executive Member for Housing and Communities, said:
“To receive such high praise from the judges is further recognition that we are leading the way in providing local people with quality affordable homes. The developments are simply outstanding and I’d like to thank everyone involved for their continued hard work.”
Read our full article on the winners of the Building Futures Awards! Please click the link to our blog page
The council’s Affordable Housing Programme has to date provided nearly 200 new homes for local people and families on lower incomes. This has been achieved by using a mix of grant funding to housing associations, purchasing properties and building new homes on suitable brownfield sites.