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Council homes raise the bar for sustainability and fire safety

A new modular council development in Newhaven, East Sussex, is being hailed as a ‘game changer’ for social housing and a window on the future of residential schemes. 

The entire development consists of 36 modules constructed within the Boutique Modern factory in Newhaven and craned into place. The 13 one and two-bed apartments are equipped to the highest specification, in terms of standard and desirable features, sustainability credentials and fire safety standards that effectively future proof the development against all anticipated toughening of regulations post-Grenfell enquiry.

Families currently on Lewes District Council’s housing register start moving into their new homes this week.

Every apartment has its own 2.1kWh solar PV installation and 2.7Kw battery to store electricity generated during the day for use at peak times. Power usage monitoring displays are also installed in each home and all residents will receive advice and guidance on how to interpret and use the information to further reduce energy use.

It is anticipated the mains energy use will be reduced by 70%, taking the properties ‘off-grid’ for up to three or four months of the year.

The modules are super insulated, meaning they are 40% more energy efficient than traditional homes. 

Mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems are installed in each apartment. They filter and exchange the air to keep the environment low in humidity, saving on maintenance issues/costs and maintaining a healthy fresh air supply within each home.

Councillor William Meyer, for Lewes District Council, said: “Palmerston House represents a complete and hugely exciting departure in 21st Century housing construction.

“These wonderful new homes provide a design template that I am certain will be replicated all over the UK as decision makers discover what we have achieved in Newhaven.

“There is no doubt that this is a game changer, not just in terms of raising the bar for sustainability and fire safety, but also in build quality and finish. 

“The apartments are stunning examples of what social housing professionals should be striving for.” 

Despite being under 18m, Palmerston House has been built to meet the 18m fire regulations introduced following the Grenfell investigations.

Each apartment constitutes a one-hour fire compartment, and every habitable room has a MIST* fire suppression system installed.

*In the event of a heat detector being triggered a fine mist is produced to extinguish the source of fire, rather than the whole property being drenched. The nature of the water dispersal means repairs and reinstatement required are less extensive. The system also limits damage to other homes. 

AOV – Automatic Opening Vents. In the event of a fire every walkway window and the roof vent in the stair core will automatically open, allowing smoke to clear.

A communal fire alarm system is integrated with the fire brigade or monitoring company. It detects any fault and activates within seconds.


26 October 2020


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