Pioneering ‘Homes That Heat Themselves’ Unveiled
EIGHT new award-winning, energy-saving rural homes for rent were yesterday (Friday 19 August) unveiled at a ceremony on the Dormont Estate near Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire. The houses have been built to pioneering ‘Passivhaus’ standards, an industry benchmark of superior quality low energy housing well above current UK requirements, meaning they effectively heat themselves. The first of their kind to be built on a commercial scale in Scotland, the ‘green’ houses are part of the rural homes for rent grant scheme developed by Scottish Land & Estates and piloted by the Scottish Government.
Jamie Carruthers, owner of Dormont Estate, has spent the past three years organising the project through landowner membership organisation Scottish Land & Estates. He attended the ceremony along with Andrew Bradford, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates Housing and Communities Policy Group, who planted a tree to commemorate the occasion. Andrew and Jamie were joined by some of the 22 new residents, representatives from Dumfries & Galloway Council, and members of the professional development team involved. Jamie commented:
“This is a very exciting day for the estate and the local community in Dalton and Carrutherstown as we see the physical results of a project which provides top quality and much-needed affordable rural housing for families. A great deal work has already been done over the last twenty years to improve the energy efficiency of our existing housing stock on the estate but this project takes our understanding of sustainable rural living to a completely new level.
“These unique new homes – the first on the estate for 50 years – will completely remove the occupants’ dependence on fossil fuels for heating and greatly reduce the threat of fuel poverty. I was delighted to welcome my new tenants today and look forward to following their adjustment to life in an entirely new type of house – one that effectively needs no heating.”
One of the tenants who attended the unveiling ceremony was Valerie Cairns. She commented:
“This is a dream come true. Since my 20's - long before it was even talked about - I have wanted to live in a house like this. The fact that the Dormont Estate has accommodated these homes which will be rented by me and other families but also generations to come is a real boost for this area. I think others should be doing the same since local people find it very hard to get homes they can afford if they are from rural areas these days.”
Supporting the launch, Minister for Housing and Transport, Keith Brown commented:
“Building affordable homes remains a priority for this government and we welcome innovative approaches to meeting social housing need, particularly in rural areas. The new homes on Dormont Estate provide excellent accommodation. Families moving into these new homes will secure affordable long-term rent as well as benefitting from cutting edge technology driving greater energy efficiency.”
Scottish Land & Estates Head of Policy, Sarah-Jane Laing, commented:
“Through this project, we are delighted to see the fruition of all the hard work that Scottish Land & Estates (and before that the SRPBA) put into the development of the Rural Homes for Rent Grant scheme. We feel that this scheme provides real opportunities for landowners to deliver quality affordable housing in rural areas. Jamie’s development is a shining example of what can be achieved and is the only scheme which managed to secure funding from the grant scheme in the South of Scotland. We urge the Scottish Government to make more funding available for the Rural Homes for Rent grant mechanism, as landowners across Scotland are willing to follow the example of Jamie and others to build much needed affordable housing.”
The Dormont development has recently won a lucrative Green Apple Environment Award for architect and project manager White Hill Design Studio based in Moffat in a national campaign to find Britain’s greenest companies. The development competed against more than 500 other nominations. PassivHaus is an industry standard will be required of all new homes by 2016 but few contractors currently offer.
Also attending the opening official ceremony were representatives from Scottish Land & Estates, Scottish Passive House Centre, Dumfries & Galloway Council, and members of the professional development team involved - Asher Associates (engineers), CCG (Scotland) Ltd (contractors), McGowan Miller Partnership (quantity surveyors), White Hill Design Studio (architect) and Triodos Bank (lenders).