An eco-town is becoming closer to having its first residents in North West Bicester in the UK. The town is said to be the most sustainable development in the UK and the first residents are thought to be moving in later on this year. The next stage of the project has received planning permission and this is to build 2,600 homes.
[Image Source: Northwest Bicenter]
North West Bicester is one of the four eco-towns which were announced in 2007 with the aim to create towns that are not just good for the economy of the region, but good for the environment along with being a nice place to live.
The town is also in the OnePlanet scheme set up by the charity BioRegional. The aim is to find a way for societies to bring down consumption and become sustainable based on the resources the world is able to provide. Along with offering sustainable homes there will be a mixture of housing that is affordable and which comes with energy monitoring systems that meets code level 4 for Sustainable Home and BREEAM excellence. The homes are also going to be future proofed to take climate change into account.
All of the homes in the town will be located within 800 m of primary schools and jobs are planned to be available within a small travel distance. Electric vehicles will be encouraged along with cycle and pedestrian designed routes and a bus service running within 400 metres of every home in the town. An electric car club and charging points for electric cars are also provided.
Throughout North West Bicester there is 40% minimum green space and the town is going to have focus on production of local food and net gain when it comes to local bio-diversity. The first phase of the eco-town is Exemplar and on completion the town is going to be home to 393 zero carbon homes; this is set to be the first zero carbon community. Exemplar is going to be home to a retail centre, eco-pub, community centre, primary school and eco-businesses. The homes have been specifically designed so as to keep warm during the winter but at the same time not being too hot in the summer. Heat and hot water comes from a combined heat and power plant and solar arrays are going to be available on every property covering about 34 sq m. When completed it will be the largest residential solar array and it will be able to provide power to 550 homes.
Planning approval has been given recently for more homes to be built on a region at the side of the Exemplar site. 30% of homes built here will be affordable and will include some apartments for the elderly. This area is also going to be home to a primary school complete with playing fields, a nursery, sports region and a pavilion. There will also be room for community farmland, a burial ground, allotments, country park and play areas. The region will also have a restaurant, café, store, shops and community hall, along with medical centre, place of worship and office spaces.
If all goes to plan the first residents will move into Exemplar later this year and the eco-town is expected to be completed by 2018. North West Bicester is going to continue being developed over the next 25 to 30 years and by its completion it will offer 6,000 energy efficient homes.