A community-led initiative to build affordable and sustainable housing
Kirknewton, a small village in West Lothian, is set to become home to seven new energy-efficient bungalows, thanks to a community-led initiative that aims to address the housing needs of local residents. The project, which is funded by various sources, including the Scottish Government, the Scottish Land Fund, the Ecology Building Society, and Kirknewton Community Development Trust Ltd, is expected to be completed by July 2024.
The homes are designed to near Passivhaus standard, which means they will have very low energy consumption and carbon emissions, as well as high levels of comfort and air quality. The homes will also be accessible and inclusive, catering to the diverse needs of the community. The project is managed by Horizon Housing Association, a member of the Link Group, which specialises in providing accessible and adaptable housing.
The project is a result of the vision and efforts of the Kirknewton Community Development Trust, which was established in 2007 to improve the quality of life and environment in the village. The Trust has been working with various partners, including Colorado Construction, the main contractor, and Robertson Architecture & Design, the architect, to deliver the project. The Trust has also involved the local primary school and the wider community in the process, through safety talks, site visits, and poster competitions.
A positive impact on the local community and the environment
The project is not only about building houses, but also about creating a positive impact on the local community and the environment. The homes are intended for occupation by those from within the Kirknewton community, especially those who are looking to downsize or who are in need of affordable and suitable housing. By staying in the village, the residents can maintain their social and support networks, as well as contribute to the vibrancy and sustainability of the community.
The project also showcases the potential of green building and renewable energy, as the homes will have solar panels, air source heat pumps, and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems. These features will help reduce the environmental footprint of the homes, as well as lower the utility costs for the residents. The project is also located in a scenic and historic site, between the main road to Camps and the Jencks Stones, a landscape art form created by renowned artist Charles Jencks.
The project is one of the first of its kind in Scotland, as it demonstrates how a community can take the lead in developing affordable and sustainable housing solutions for its own members. The project has received support and recognition from various organisations and individuals, including the Scottish Paralympian Aileen Nelson, who is the accessible housing ambassador for Horizon. Nelson said: “Having been lucky enough to travel all over the world, we faced many challenges finding suitable accessible accommodation so it’s really important for accessible housing to be developed which is of the right size and right type to meet a range of needs.”
A testament to the dedication and collaboration of the project team
The project is also a testament to the dedication and collaboration of the project team, which consists of various professionals and volunteers who share a common goal of delivering excellence and creating legacy. Colorado Construction, which is based in Livingston, West Lothian, said it was delighted to be involved in such a worthy project for its near neighbours in Kirknewton. Ian Bownes, the managing director of Colorado Construction, said: “We always aim to make a difference in the communities our projects are based in. Projects like these are what make all the hard work worth it.”
Robertson Architecture & Design, which is responsible for the design of the homes, said it was pleased to be working with the Trust and the community to create a unique and innovative development that reflects the ethos and aspirations of the village. Bryan Laird, the principal civil engineer at Harley Haddow, which provides the civil, structural and mechanical & electrical utility infrastructure design services for the project, said: “It is great to be working with the community development trust to provide much needed affordable properties to local people and we’re looking forward to seeing this project develop further.”
The Ecology Building Society, which is providing the development finance and long-term mortgage support to the Trust, said it was delighted to be contributing to the project, as it aligns with the values and vision of the Society and its members. The Society said: “The Trust’s commitment to delivering highly energy efficient, comfortable homes that will be affordable in perpetuity to local people is absolutely aligned to the values of the Society and our members.”
The project is currently in its final stages, as the construction team has recently completed the ‘Topping Out’ ceremony, which marks the completion of the structure and the beginning of the finishes. The project is expected to be handed over to the Trust and the residents by July 2024, when the new homes will be ready for occupation.