Housing association’s first gas-free homes get top marks from customers

Homes at a North East housing association’s first gas-free new build development are receiving top marks for both customer satisfaction and energy efficiency.

Newlyweds Joel and Brooklyn Huntington were among the first people to move into believe housing’s 12 new homes at Mill Close in Brandon, near Durham.

“We wanted a new build and looked at a few places before seeing this, it had everything we wanted and we knew straight away it was for us,” said Brooklyn.

Having moved from an old privately rented house, which was difficult to heat, they are thrilled with the energy efficiency of their new home.

Each home at Mill Close has an air source heat pump and solar panels, enhanced construction specifications and energy efficiency measures, and electrical vehicle charging points.

Assessments have found the homes to be exceptionally energy efficient, with EPC A ratings and SAP scores of 93 to 97 – a SAP score of 100 represents zero energy costs so these homes are providing lower fuel bills for customers and reducing carbon emissions significantly.

“We rented a 200-year-old house before this, which we couldn’t get warm and had really high energy bills,” said Joel.

“Here, we’re having no problems at all.

“The house is always nice and warm, and our energy bills look a lot lower already – there are times in the day when the sun is shining that we are not paying anything for electricity because it uses the panels.”

During a visit to Mill Close, Durham County Councillor Mark Wilkes, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “As a county, this kind of development is really showing we can build housing for the future, homes that are not only amazing to live in, but truly energy efficient and cheaper to live in.

“We have set targets to make our county carbon neutral and without this sort of work that would not be possible.”

Kate Abson, Director of Development at believe housing, said: “We are delivering homes in response to local housing need; homes which are spacious, light, comfortable and warm.

“We had phenomenal interest in Mill Close – more than 750 applications were received for just 12 homes – and the customers who have moved in have rated us 5/5 for their overall satisfaction and 9.9/10 would recommend us to a family or friend.

“The team puts a lot of time, thought, and effort into each new build scheme.

“Our EPC and SAP results are testament to that, and these beautiful homes are contributing to the wider regeneration of this community too.

“To see people like Brooklyn and Joel move into their new home with us, making it their own, planning their future there, is a wonderful confirmation that we’re doing the right thing.”

The homes were built for believe housing by Oaktree Living, on the derelict site of a former pub called The Mill. The site had been left undeveloped for many years and £660,000 of grant funding from Homes England’s Affordable Homes Programme supported construction costs.

The housing association is currently seeking planning permission for a further 98 homes on an adjacent brownfield site, a mix of bungalows and family houses, as it continues to support the regeneration of central Brandon through investment in existing homes and the delivery of new ones.

Meanwhile, construction of believe housing’s second off-gas new build development, being built near Bishop Auckland by North East contractor RE:GEN Group, approaches completion.

The move away from gas for new build schemes is part of believe housing’s Future Homes roadmap which sets out clear ambitions to deliver homes fit for the future, around the core principles of energy efficiency, low carbon heating, and renewable energy technologies.

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