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Gloucestershire Business News

Airtight frames craned into place as 88-home sustainable development takes shape

Work on a development of 88 sustainable homes has reached a new milestone as revolutionary airtight wooden frames, designed to make them as energy efficient as possible, are craned into place.

Developer Stonewood Partnerships said the homes, at Orchard Field in Siddington, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, have been designed to be as low energy as possible without compromising on the finish.

The Tormarton and Castle-Combe-based company is building the environmentally friendly community as a joint venture with retired architect Nicholas Arbuthnott, whose vision inspired the scheme.

Stonewood's design team has been working closely with Stewart Milne Timber Systems of Witney in Oxfordshire using MMC (modern method of construction) to develop the frames, which are 23.5cm thick - nearly double that of standard timber frames.

Once they are clad, Stonewood said the walls will be a heat-saving 45cm thick to fit the 'fabric first' ethos of building homes whose fundamental design is energy efficient, rather than relying on retro-fitting gadgets to produce that efficiency.

Each home is made up of individual sealed timber panels filled with recycled glass fibre insulation. They are sealed together to make them completely draught-free and allow the energy-efficient heating system to cut bills by up to 70 per cent compared to standard new-built houses.

Sam Smart, managing director of Stonewood Partnerships said: "It is really exciting and such a proud moment to be able to produce this amazing opportunity with our joint venture partner Nicholas Arbuthnott. We are really privileged to be able to do this so early in our company's evolution."

The panels are cut to size and sealed using laser-guided equipment at Stewart Milne's factory to ensure they fit seamlessly together.

"They effectively leave a dry shell for us to put the masonry around the outside and then fit out the inside," added Mr Smart.

"It takes a week to erect a pair of houses when normally it would take four to six weeks. It allows us to start working inside straight away, which makes it a much quicker and cleaner process."

Each of the 11 one, two, three, four and five-bedroom homes close to Siddington C of E School has been designed to meet Association for Environment Conscious Building standards, which demand excellent construction and low energy consumption.

Other environmentally friendly features include ground-floor underfloor heating fuelled by air source heat pumps, the use of mechanical ventilation heat recovery, small-bore pipes delivering rapid hot water to sinks and showers, solar panels and electric car charging points.

The housing development will occupy just 11 acres of the site and the rest will be devoted to woodland, landscaping and a new pond.

Mr Smart said: "We are delighted this is under way now and we can see the neighbourhood beginning to take shape. We'll be working very closely with our neighbours and the community as we progress to ensure there is as little disruption in Siddington as possible."

Construction began onsite in last month and work assembling the timber frames is expected to last until August 2022.

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