Left to right: Tim Baker, Mi-space, John Golding Strategic Lead – Housing & Environment EDDC, EDDC Cllr Bill Nash, Graham Baker Programme Works Officer EDDC, Paul Lowe Housing Enabling & Allocations Manager EDDC, Amy Gilbert Property and Asset Manager EDDC, Andrew Mitchell Housing Needs & Strategy Manager EDDC, EDDC Cllr Jill Elson & portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, standing outside 102 St Andrews Road, Exmouth

Single person ‘EnerPHit’ quality approved accommodation in Exmouth is designed to help reduce heating bills for tenants

Local councillors, residents, contractors and officers from East Devon District Council attended an informal event yesterday, Thursday 6 October 2016, to celebrate the official opening of the council’s newly completed and highly innovative shared housing property for six single people between 21 and 55 years of age, at 102 St Andrews Road in Exmouth.

What makes this Victorian style terraced house stand out from other types of single person accommodation, is that it has been refurbished by contractors Mi-space - so exacting low energy Passivhaus design principles, which have ensured that it meets required low energy standards for EnerPHit, a highly successful approach to refurbishing buildings so that they achieve specific energy values.

102 St Andrews Road is now officially certified as a Quality-Approved Passive House, having passed a number of stringent tests. The house has excellent thermal performance qualities, requiring very little energy to heat or cool it. This in turn will reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, which will in turn mean lower heating bills for the tenants.

It is the first time that the council has provided this type of accommodation for single people and the ground-breaking decision to create it came about in response to recent welfare and benefit changes, which highlighted an urgent need to tackle fuel poverty. It has underlined the council’s resolve to help its tenants reduce fuel consumption and associated heating bills and confirmed the council’s belief that there is a demand for this type of social housing in East Devon.

The house will provide occupants with six individual bedrooms, complete with en-suite shower rooms and access to a communal kitchen and dining room. Each bedroom is furnished with a single bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, small table and an easy chair. The kitchen is fitted out with basic cooking utensils – for example pots and pans.

Communal areas within the property feature three pieces of artwork created by members of the local community. There is a montage of photographs, taken by young people involved with the council’s SWITCH project, which shows the Exmouth lifeboat and lifeboat tractor and a sand sculpture, created by young people on Exmouth beach. The other two are paintings done by a local community artist, Hayley Watson, who works closely with the council’s Community Development team on projects involving young people and the community group Link-in Together.

The refurbishment of the house has been undertaken by Mi-space, part of the Midas Group, who began work on the property in February 2016.

Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, welcomes the opening of this accommodation.

A need was identified to provide housing for single people who find themselves vulnerable and insecure from their changing circumstances. The tenants will be offered a licence based on the tenancy agreement. The house will be supervised by our staff on a regular basis and any breaches of the agreement can be settled very quickly. We have provided these rooms with en suites and shared areas to a high quality standard, that we would hope can be provided by the private sector. The house retrofitted sustainably to ensure low energy costs to the tenants.

Amy Gilbert, Property and Asset Manager for East Devon District Council, said:

We have had to work closely with our partners Mi-space on the delivery of this challenging project and, consequently, we have learnt a great deal in terms of producing our first Quality Approved Passivhaus property. I would like to extend my thanks to the team who have worked hard to deliver the project within a tight timeframe.

We look forward to offering six individuals the opportunity to live in the property and who will benefit first hand from the technology that has been installed in it. We will be monitoring the house carefully in terms of savings that we are able to demonstrate and we look forward to the possibility of further projects that could be considered.

AJ Eaton, Divisional Director of Mi-space Asset Management, part of South West construction company The Midas Group, said:

Achieving these low-energy standards is something that is usually only done with new build properties, so we are delighted to complete this complex project on time, in what we believe is the first retrofitting of such an old building to this energy efficient certification. 

This partnership with East Devon District Council highlights the work we are doing with local authorities to proactively tackle the growing issue of fuel poverty and develop solutions.