Plans approved for new Passivhaus Phoenix Community Housing homes at Melfield Gardens

Green light for Lewisham’s first Passivhaus new homes

Updated: 12 March 2021 at 14:02pm

Construction is set to begin on some of the most sustainable new homes ever built in Lewisham after Phoenix secured planning approval for the borough’s first new ‘Passivhaus’ housing scheme.

The new development, approved by Lewisham Council on Friday 16 October, is an intergenerational scheme offering 30 much-needed affordable homes for people over 55 alongside two four-bedroom flats for postgraduate students.

It will be built on the site of empty bedsits at Melfield Gardens, close to Beckenham Hill Station and Phoenix’s first ever residential development Hazelhurst Court, an extra care scheme completed in 2017 that has gone on to win numerous architectural awards, including the Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design in the 2020 Civic Trust Awards.

The new homes will be built to ‘Passivhaus’ standards – an international methodology for designing and constructing the type of buildings needed to address issues including climate change and fuel poverty. Passivhaus homes are highly insulated so need very little heating and are well ventilated through a highly efficient mechanical ventilation system. Passivhaus design can also help minimise overheating in the summer. This means residents of Passivhaus schemes enjoy a very comfortable home environment and can benefit from low heating energy bills.

Besides the new homes, the scheme will include a communal garden room as a focal point and social hub for residents. Over time the room could facilitate a range of activities, such as gardening workshops, pottery or art and craft days.

Illustration of the view over the agreed Passivhaus scheme at Melfield Gardens

There has been extensive consultation with existing residents on the plans, which have been shaped through three public consultation events held before the national lockdown in March 2020.

Phoenix Community Housing Chief Executive Jim Ripley said: “This is a real landmark moment for Phoenix and for Lewisham as a whole and I’m very grateful to the council for lending their support. It’s vitally important that we don’t just build new homes but homes that contribute to the battle against climate change and well-designed schemes that create places where people are proud to live.

“There’s a huge demand for affordable housing both for older people and for students. The new development at Melfield Gardens will help to meet the need for both and offer a place where different generations can mingle and support each other. I can’t wait to see them being built.”

The new scheme will complement Phoenix’s existing development programme, with 70 new homes currently on site and dozens more in the pipeline thanks to a £60million investment from Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) secured in 2018.

These include proposals for a scheme on garages and disused allotments at Chingley Close and Arcus Road. Phoenix has now appointed the architect Mikhail Riches for that scheme – winners of the prestigious Stirling Prize in 2019 for their development at Goldsmith Street in Norwich.

Following planning approval, Phoenix expects the new homes at Melfield Gardens to be ready for new residents by the autumn of 2023.