Background and business case
Oswin Grove consists of 11 homes made up of five three-bedroom and six two-bedroom properties. All homes were allocated to people with a local connection to the village.
The brief was to take an empty, flood-hit former sheltered housing scheme in the centre of the village and transform the site into a new, modern affordable housing scheme, with a particular emphasis on providing more family homes for local people and ensuring a rural community like this remains sustainable.
Prior to Broadaces acquiring the site, Oswin Grove was a sheltered housing scheme which, on several occasions, had been affected by floods which had historically plagued the village. Flood prevention work has been carried out in the village to minimise future impact on the community, but it was still essential that we came up with an engineering solution which meant people living in the new homes would not experience the same problems. As Broadacres is not-for-profit, it meant we could invest more in making the scheme work and the solution we took was raising the new development half a metre above where the original complex (which was demolished as part of the scheme) sat. This involved installing concrete ‘pile’ foundations that went in 14 metres underground, effectively acting as stilts. In addition, we ensured we still had the capability of holding flood water so it wouldn’t be dispersed elsewhere in the village.
Other innovations included installing air source heating at each property. The village does not have a gas connection so heating oil is used and this can be expensive, especially during fluctuations in oil prices. Air source heating is cheaper and forms part of Broadacres’ strategy of ensuring affordable warmth in our rural communities.
Broadacres built 11, two-storey homes around a new courtyard, with parking for each property and a communal gazebo area, including designed BBQ area and play space to encourage the residents to mix and form their own little micro community. As part of the new scheme, Broadacres also built new car parking spaces for people living in bungalows immediately across from the development. These bungalows previously had no parking, so this enhanced the value of their homes.
These houses boast a rich palette of materials including natural copper cladding and stone, offset by hard and soft landscaping to create a modern, high quality, durable environment.
Each development block was conceived as a very specific response to the local vernacular whilst also offering the opportunity to explore new models for contemporary social housing.
The homes all have their own air source heating systems, which convert the ambient air into heat for warm water and central heating. Without this, the homes would have had to have oil tanks and oil boilers, which can be expensive to run and maintain.
The properties all have full height windows to maximise solar gain and the staircases were built to ensure that if people’s needs change in the future, then stairlifts can be easily added without major internal work being needed.
Extra sockets were installed in each home to reflect the needs of a modern family who, as well as needing sockets to plug in white goods and vacuums, also need capacity to charge mobile telephones, tablets and smart speakers etc.