The Ocean Housing Development team were delighted to be awarded Best Residential Development at the RICS Awards South West 2015 for their affordable housing development at Roberts Close, Mevagissey.
Roberts Close is the second phase of an affordable housing development in the fishing port of Mevagissey, Cornwall. It has been designed and built to carefully meet the needs of the local community.
Roberts Close provides 7 rented, 4 shared-ownership and 5 open-market homes with construction having completed in October 2014. The scheme meets Mevagissey’s housing need where the average house price is 11 times local average salary, thereby pushing local people out of the town and inflating property and land values.
A huge amount of community consultation took place on the scheme-design prior to submitting Roberts Close for planning; working closely with the Parish Council. A working group comprising prospective residents and neighbours assisted with completing an Equality Impact Assessment to ensure the scheme met necessary levels of need. From conception, Ocean Housing worked with the local Parish Council and Church Glebe for over ten years to refine and eventually deliver the scheme to be such a success in creating a very mixed-income community.
At the scheme opening in January 2015, the Dean of Truro commented on how Roberts Close made “…an important contribution and in some way, will help to alleviate the issue for local people and their communities”.
Catalyst for Economic Activity
Average house prices in Mevagissey are now £234,579; equivalent to 11 times the local average salary. In addition, Mevagissey is ranked among the top ten places in Cornwall for the number of second homes. Cornwall Council confirm that as many as 15% of homes in Mevagissey are second homes. Roberts Close allows local families to remain in, and return to, Mevagissey close to where they work and enabling them to have more disposable income to support local businesses industries, such as fishing; which has been in decline for many years.
New resident, Craig, states
“We had to leave the area just over four years ago as renting privately became too expensive. Living in St Austell meant high costs for us to travel to work and we were often on edge wondering if our six month rolling tenancy would be extended”.
Craig works his fishing boat out of the harbour and with the fishing industry as it is; he needs to go out at the ‘drop of a hat’, so being this close really helps. His wife Posey notes
“We’ve now got greater security, not to mention our girls who go to school here and it means I’m close to my family too.”
The design of the Roberts Close includes an update of home-design to integrate seamlessly within the local buildings, using materials such at slate shingle siding and cladding to reflect the historic mining of slate within the area. The homes orientate to realise the full benefit of passive solar gain and so minimise requirement for space heating and associated cost. The considerable challenge of accommodating the homes on a severely sloping site (up to 1:7 in parts) was overcome by creative use of retaining structures and landscaping features to produce an interesting and visually-appealing scheme.
Sustainable Development Features
The scheme was built to Code for Sustainable Homes level 3 and included the following features;
- Compact building form and high insulation properties achieving U-values of 0.24W/m2.K and 0.14W/m2.K for external walls and roof respectively.
- Air source heat pump systems allowing for low cost reliable heating solutions for residents.
- Building management system provides monitoring for individual heating and water usage to further promote residents’ awareness of their carbon footprint and bills with assistance offered to high users.
- Contractors adhered to the SMART Waste Plan to manage and minimise waste during construction. This allowed for 87% of the 1,505m³ produced waste to be diverted from landfill.
Possibly of more significance is the socially and economically sustainable neighbourhood that Roberts Close actually creates, mixing people on varying income levels in the three different tenures, whilst facilitating local people to live close to their existing social networks and places of work, and in homes that are efficient and economical to live in.