‘Groundbreaking’ affordable housing project in Bridport

Roy Mathisen and Vince Adams, campaigning for affordable homes

On Thursday, August 2nd 2018, Bradpole Parish Council hosted a presentation outlining a dynamic new development in Bridport at the foot of Watton Hill.

A groundbreaking development, it offers a brand-new way of building homes for the future that are high quality and sustainably designed, bringing the people of Bridport and its surrounding parishes outstanding living at affordable rents.

A small team has spent a year working with a local landowner on a proposal to build 215 affordable rented homes, 44 shared ownership homes and 24 homes for sale. The team, which includes Roy Mathisen, a Bridport based campaigner for affordable housing and fellow campaigner Vince Adams, who also promotes the development of eco homes, believes this mix of homes will create a SMART model village.

Explaining the motivation behind the project, Roy Mathisen said: ‘The level of housing poverty in Bridport and the rest of the UK is totally unacceptable. There are over 400 households in Bridport that are either inadequately housed or even homeless. We have worked very hard to develop a model that can fix this problem using private finance, whilst also giving landowners an attractive opportunity to leave an affordable housing legacy for their community without selling the land.’

Watton Hill Bridport

The homes will be made of modular sections using straw-filled panel technology to give high levels of insulation and durability. Every home will have its own integrated solar roof and individual battery storage system.

This will dramatically reduce the cost of heating and will even offer surplus energy for local use.

Water reclamation, energy saving and many other innovations are at the heart of the new Village, as is the natural world. Only a small part of the lower slopes will be built on, opening up new pathways, cycle-ways, green spaces and of course woodlands that will be regenerated and managed long-term. The RSPB have offered their help in making the area a haven for birds and wildlife.

Community is another theme foremost in the scheme. Food growing areas will abound with a community centre housing an event space, laundry and small meeting rooms, creating a focus for community activities and neighbourly get-togethers.

Vince Adams pointed to the many benefits presented at the Bradpole meeting: ‘We want to add life and community to Watton Hill, whilst retaining its unique landscape. I was heartened by the way that the people of Bradpole understood and generally agreed with our project to create a new village with affordable and eco at its heart.’

Renewable energy specialist, Keith Wheaton-Green, also part of the team, gave some detail about how energy will be harnnessed and put to best use. ‘The Watton Village Smart-Communities Project is – as far as we know – the first housing development that will generate considerably more electricity than it uses. It’s a solar farm on roof tops, which is probably where most new solar farms should be from now on. There will be battery storage and electric car charging to time shift the solar generation. The dwellings will be so well insulated, and with minimal heat loss due to the mechanical heat recovery ventilation, that the latest generation air source heat pumps will provide all the hot water and space heat required. The site will have no gas connection and heat recovery from shower waste, energy efficient electrical devices and led lighting will mean very low energy bills for the occupants. All new housing developments should be like this.’

The scheme is ambitious and, at no cost to either the local or regional councils, it will offer homes to local working people, young and old, and so important to the life of Bridport.

Above all it wants to be an essential part of Bridport, open to everyone as green open space – a place to walk, picnic and reflect.

SMART means Sustainable, Modular, Affordable, Regenerative, Together – creating a new, cohesive local community alongside the existing town of Bridport.

Details about the project can be found at www.smart-communities.co.uk/wattonvillage