A twenty-year old village is leading the way on green energy and social housing.
Home to 2,500 people and with 1,660 working in 140 businesses nearby, it has ‘generous’ open space. In the centre is a covered market underneath the town hall and an open square is planned.
There are shops below many private houses and business premises alongside them. Commercial space is affordable – typically less than £10,000 per year. Offices, shops, cafés and small workshops line the streets and, as architect Ben Pentreath points out, “The businesses have proved symbiotic; the pub picks up lunchtime trade from the factories, whose workers can drop their children in the nursery next door; and so on”.
Its mixture of private and affordable housing, public spaces, offices and factories are all within walking and cycling distance. Many streets are narrow and winding and trees are planted in wider, straighter streets to discourage speeding – the average is about 6 mph.
The village has 35% social housing – integrated throughout and indistinguishable from private houses. This is in accordance with central government policy, which requires all developers to provide social and key-worker housing on ‘aspirational’ housing sites. Elsewhere, at times, developers have evaded this requirement once building has got underway.
Last year, biogas from the village’s new digester began to feed into the National Grid. The plant, on a farm outside the village, takes local slurry, food, farm and business waste and converts it into enough clean gas to supply the entire settlement. It is carbon-neutral, and financially viable – the first such commercial plant in the UK.
Pentreath’s verdict: this village is richly textured, intricate, a convincing whole, getting better not worse with age.