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Housing Association Unveils Plans for Revolutionary Low Carbon Estate

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Ambitious plans have been unveiled for a new low carbon estate of 131 affordable homes in North Wales.

The 12-acre site in Pensarn, near Abergele, was acquired by housing association Cartrefi Conwy earlier this year. It will be the biggest housing scheme ever undertaken by Cartrefi if it’s given the green light by planners at Conwy County Borough Council. The former Inter Leisure site in Towyn Road already has planning permission for housing  after it was secured by the previous owners.

Cartrefi will be applying for permission to amend the existing planning permission and have asked for more time to do so.

According to Cartrefi Conwy managing director Katie Clubb, they are committed to using local labour and local suppliers, triggering a massive boost for the regional economy.

The development will also be “fantastic news” for Cartrefi subsidiary, Creating Enterprise, who will be making the timber frames for the low energy, modular houses at their factory in Rhyl.

If it’s given the go-ahead, the scheme would take their order book to over 300 homes, providing more jobs and training opportunities for housing association tenants and other local people.

The factory, which has already created nine new jobs, has received funding from the Welsh Government and the National Lottery.

The Pensarn development is part of Cartrefi Conwy’s strategy to build 1,000 homes with rock bottom energy bills and dovetails with the Welsh Government’s strategy to deliver affordable, energy efficient homes that tackle fuel poverty. The beauty of the Passivhaus modular system is that in can be configured in different ways – ranging from a single story one-bedroom property to a two-storey family home.

High performance insulation will be used to make the homes completely draught free, cutting heat loss to create a home with minimal environmental impact and saving residents up to 80 per cent in annual energy costs.

The scheme  will provide much needed homes for social or intermediate rent.

Katie Clubb said the need for the development was underlined by the fact that there are around 1,800 people on the waiting list for social housing in Conwy.

She said:

“This is very exciting because it will be the biggest single housing development ever undertaken by Cartrefi Conwy.

“With the help of financial support from the Welsh Government, we acquired the land earlier this year and it’s going to be a development of 100 per cent affordable homes.

“They will all be modular homes with the frames being built at the Creating Enterprise factory in Rhyl, creating work and training opportunities for people who are furthest from the jobs market.

Cartrefi’s assistant director for development and growth, David Kelsall, said:

“Although the site already has planning permission, the plans for the original development wasn’t progressed but that permission remains live.

“We are looking to amend the design to deliver a 100 per cent affordable housing scheme that will be mixture of tenanted homes for social rent and intermediate rent.

“We have a draft lay-out at the moment and it’s gone to the local authority for them to comment on the plan.

“Once we have got our designs firmed up we will consult fully with the public and other statutory consultees.”

Adrian Johnson, managing director of commercial services at Cartrefi Conwy, who set up the Creating Enterprise factory, said it would be a hugely significant development on many levels.

He said:

“This is potentially incredibly good news and we are keeping our fingers crossed in term of planning.

“This would be the equivalent of three years of orders for the factory in Rhyl and would take the total number of orders we have to over 300.

“The properties themselves are very advanced in terms of building control standards, exceeding sound-proofing requirements and it has in-built radon gas barriers.

“It’s up to passive standard which means they are going to be among the most energy efficient homes you can build in the UK.

“We manufacture the panels in the factory which means they can be erected very quickly on site. No wet trades are required so if there is any bad weather it doesn’t  affect us.

“Another real bonus of this product is that it is so flexible and you can build anything from a one bedroom apartment to a five-bedroom house.”

Cartrefi Conwy Chief Executive Andrew Bowden said:

“These modular homes are revolutionising the social housing market in North Wales.

“The development could not be more timely because the sky rocketing cost of energy is a huge worry to people at the moment.

“The energy costs of the homes in Pensarn will be 80 per cent cheaper than traditionally built homes of a similar size.

“The other benefit is that the profit made by Creating Enterprise will be recycled for social good which actually bring tenants back into paid employment. This is profit with a purpose.”