The story to create town’s first sustainable housing site will be featured on Channel 4 in the second of two episodes on 15th December at 8pm.
The Triangle site off Northern Road comprises 42 sustainable homes built by Hab Oakus – a joint venture between Kevin McCloud’s company Hab and the Swindon-based housing group GreenSquare.
A Channel 4 TV team have shadowed Kevin for the last four years documenting his progression from presenting Grand Designs featuring how visionary people create stand-out individual homes for themselves to becoming a housing developer providing high quality, sustainable homes on more of a mass scale.
Shown in two parts the documentary tracks the trials and tribulations of putting together a major housing project – from explaining the HAB housing philosophy, the struggles to work within the constraints of national and Swindon Council planning and funding policies and trying to get it to accommodate new approaches to providing homes for people.
The first part on 8 December showed Kevin working on designs with architects in the Glenn Howell practice, explaining his plans to ordinary people, many of them sceptical of promises from a TV personality and ready to object to more homes in their midst, and scenes in Swindon Council’s planning committee when permission was granted and construction work started in the midst of a house building recession.
On 15 December the programme illustrates the rush to catch up on the construction delayed by last winter’s freezing weather, introducing the first tenants to the site, Kevin helping to plant vegetables with the first people in the shared kitchen garden, and the end of project barbeque with residents in November. Images right by Richard Wintle of
The first residents started to move into 16 two-bed houses, 13 three-bed houses, 7 four-bed houses, 4 one-bed apartments, and 2 two-bed apartments in September.
There are homes for Intermediate Rent and Rent To Homebuy – and homes for affordable rent to local people registered with Swindon Borough Council. All of the homes have been allocated to local people with children in local schools, and friends and family nearby.
The project aims to help people live more sustainable lives by providing edible landscape and shared kitchen gardens, bike storage and a Goco car club.
Homes are also fitted out with the ‘Shimmy’, a home-information system that helps residents to keep track of their energy use so that they can manage their bills; provides real-time information about local busses, and allows residents to communicate with each other.
Both new residents of The Triangle and residents from the surrounding neighbourhood are eligible to join the car club. Cars will be parked just inside the entrance to the Triangle. Members pay a joining fee, and are able to hire a car at a moment’s notice for an hourly rate.
Kevin McCloud said: "We at HAB deliberately designed the housing to be low-key and quiet, so that the residents and the landscape would take centre stage. What’s really exciting is seeing the way the residents have quickly taken over the project and started to build the community that is so important to the success of the project. It was lovely to hear the positive comments at the barbeque. There is a tremendous neighbourhood spirit at The Triangle."
Link to approval of The Triangle at Swindon Council’s planning committee in October 2009.
Link to Kevin McCloud’s HAB initiative being welcomed to Swindon in July 2007
GreenSquare chief executive David Ashmore welcomed the completion of the site. "As well as helping to meet the need for good quality affordable homes in Swindon, we believe that The Triangle is a brilliantly – designed housing development that sets very high standards. There are so many great features within each home – and in the open space surrounding them – that will support residents who want a more sustainable lifestyle."
Above, Starting work on The Triangle in May 2010, Kevin McCloud and newly apppinted housing minister Grant Shapps mixing granulated cannabis which has been used as wall construction material of the Triangle homes.
Main photo collage and below, Images from ©Calyx Multimedia, 41, Churchward Avenue, Rodbourne Cheney, Swindon, SN2 1NJ ?01793 520131 MOB: 07836 205196