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Review: Sustainable housing on a brownfield site

The new Climate Innovation District being built by Citu Group Developments Limited (CITU) on the edge of Leeds city centre offers a model for sustainable design and development. CITU is a Leeds based company whose mission is to tackle climate change. The homes were designed by White Arkitekter; a Scandinavian firm. They also prepared the masterplan for the scheme.

Such developments are crucial in addressing the key aspects of sustainable growth and development in urban areas. Located in the Leeds Dock area, the district is being built on an old industrial site on the south bank of the River Aire. When complete, the development is planned to deliver a mixed-use neighbourhood with 1,000 sustainable homes, a zero carbon workplace, five urban parks, a primary school and a care home. The first phase comprising 315 homes was completed early last year.

CITU homes are different from traditional two storey brick houses. Influenced by Scandinavian design, the appearance is contemporary and bold. The design and layout significantly reduces the carbon footprint of its occupiers. The design of the homes is based on the Leeds model for back-to-back housing, with rooms located around lightwells that provide light down into the kitchens. They are visually attractive and signpost a step change in the delivery of sustainable homes.
The homes have a timber frame with recycled glasswool insulation and triple glazed windows. Heating bills are kept low with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery systems (MVHRs) There are also solar arrays, which are co-owned by all of the residents, to provide renewable energy.

Located on the edge of the city centre, there is a large range of shops, eating and drinking establishments and entertainment venues nearby. Residents do not need to rely on access to a private car. Bus stops are located close to the site along the A61, and Leeds train station is approximately 25 minutes walk away. There are also opportunities to walk and cycle along the riverside into the city centre.

The development is also located on previously developed land, which means that available land is being used efficiently.

In short, the location ticks all of the boxes for planners and sustainability in land use terms.
In the current housing crisis, younger people in particular, are experiencing difficulties in trying to save for a deposit to secure a mortgage and get on the property ladder. Unfortunately, with one bedroom properties currently on sale in the Climate Innovation District for more than £150,000, and the asking price for four bedroom properties being more than £400,000, the cost of purchasing may be too great for some people. However, the longer-term costs will be significantly less than average because of the sustainable design.

In addition, some affordable housing provision has been secured as part of the Section 106 legal agreements associated with the development.

John HelyarReview: Sustainable housing on a brownfield site