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Chequers B new homes as flats and houses on an underutilised garage site

Passivhaus Homes at Chequers B

Loughton, Epping Forest

Client: Epping Forest District Council

Brief: 8 one- and two-bedroom Passivhaus flats on an under-utilised garage site within a flood zone
Sustainability Initiatives: Passivhaus, Air Source Heat Pumps, MVHRs, Photovoltaics, SUDs, EV charging points

Chequers B is a new build development providing 8 passivhaus homes as four 1-bedroom flats and four 2-bedroom flats on a garage site set within an existing terrace of two-storey houses in Loughton. Originally appointed by the Epping Forest District Council to take the project forward from planning, we were re-appointed by the Council to re-design the development when the proposed scheme was found to be not appropriate for the flood risk of the area. Whilst set within a low-density neighbourhood of privately owned residences, the Council asked that, in redesigning the new homes, we review the scheme housing provision to provide as many homes as possible with the required sacrificial ground and height constraints.

The Chequers B site is backed by a TFL railway line and set within a flood risk zone such that the flood risk assessment concluded that no habitable rooms should be located at ground floor. Our designs, therefore provide the new development with a ‘sacrificial space’ at ground floor within which space is provided for parking, cycle and bin storage, and a covered terraced extension to the rear garden. Due to the proximity of Debden Train Station, we were able to reduce the number of parking bays for the development from twelve t to six including a parking bay for wheelchair users.

The flat floor areas and room layouts have been designed in line with the recommendations outlined in the Nationally Described Space Standards, the National Planning Policy Framework and Supplementary Design Guides. As part of the design requirements issued by Epping Forest District Council, the properties have also been designed to achieve the Code of Sustainable Homes Level 4, Lifetime Homes Standard, Part M4(2) of the Building Regulations where relevant and Secured by Design guidelines. Each flat has a South facing balcony overlooking the rear communal garden with full-height side-vertical louvres fixed in an angle that allows light through and avoids overlooking. Two new trees have been provided to green the development entrance along with soft landscaping to buffer the development from the roadway. Within the front façade of the development, the third floor is tucked within a mansard roof fostering a perception of an overall lower building. This, along with the material stratification of railing, brick and zinc, gives a horizontality to the front elevations reducing the perceived mass of the building.

To achieve the Passivhaus Standard, high levels of insulation and triple glazed windows have been incorporated within the design greatly reducing the energy consumption of homes whilst having the further benefit of reducing external noise – specifically the noise from trains on the adjoining railway tracks. With the reduced heat demand of the homes, and the generation of electricity on site, it was agreed to heat the homes electrically removing them from the gas grid. Furthermore, removing the need for the use of fossil fuels within the new homes means the new development will not adversely impact upon the air quality of the existing community, and will support the Council in achieving its climate change targets by addressing Epping Forest’s Climate Emergency declaration. The development takes advantage of its large flat roof for the installation of PV panels. These will meet the heating demand of communal areas and offset part of the carbon footprint of those properties.