New eco-homes planned in Oxfordshire will provide residents with a communal working space to help them cut the carbon footprint of driving into the office.
The 180 homes will also require almost no heating or cooling because of the levels of energy efficiency, according to developers Blenheim Estate.
Communal spaces on the planned estate in the village of Woodstock will include “hot desk” office working facilities, home delivery lockers and electric cycle hire.
Homes will not have more than one alloted car parking space, but instead have the use of a “parking barn”, in order to “make residents think twice” about using their car.
The estate will also have some car-free streets and the developers envisage homeowners eventually abandoning private car ownership in coming years.
Blenheim Estates, which declared a “climate emergency” in 2019 and aims to be net zero by 2027, said the home working hubs would give residents a way to avoid driving to work, helping to cut their carbon footprint.
“We believe this development has huge potential as a model for other landowners as part of the UK climate change agenda,” said Roger File, the director of Blenheim Property.
“Our goal is to create long-term, high quality new homes that benefit their surrounding communities and are built in a sustainable and environmentally positive way, which helps to address both the climate change and fuel poverty agendas.”
Family homes in the area sell for £500,000, but Gareth Belsham from building consultancy Naismiths said the Blenheim Estate properties would likely carry a premium.
“Especially in light of energy cost crisis we're experiencing, it’s definitely the direction of travel for developers,” he said. “It really is an aspirational purchase. There's definitely more of this sort of stock emerging on the market.”
The 180 homes will be heated using energy supplied by solar panels and a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery, which traps and purifies hot air inside the nearly air-tight building.
Research from Knight Frank last year found that the energy efficiency of a home was important to 86 per cent of potential buyers.
‘Pioneering’ green credentials
The UK has some of the leakiest homes in Europe, and the Government has imposed new standards for rented properties from 2025 and wants all homes to be upgraded by 2035.
Mr Belsham said the estate, which is awaiting planning permission, would be “pioneering” in terms of its green credentials and its scale.
He added that co-working spaces were increasingly a feature on new developments since the pandemic, but had so far been mostly limited to spaces in blocks of flats.
“That's going to be a growing trend because there are a lot more home based workers now,” he said.
More than 40 per cent of those who worked from home during the pandemic say they now have a hybrid working pattern, only going into the office part time, according to Government data.
Experts have debated the impact on the environment. While home working can cut the number of commuting days, it can also encourage people to move further away from their place of work, making their journeys longer.
Working from home can also increase energy consumption if employees are heating and lighting their own homes, rather than sharing an office space.
The planned Oxford development has prompted protests from local residents, who say it will increase local traffic and reduce the green space available in the community.
A spokesperson from the Campaign to Protect Old Woodstock said: “Woodstock is a very small town. Our infrastructure simply can’t take this amount of building all at once.
“The schools cannot cope with additional capacity and our surgery is already at bursting point.”
In response, Blenheim Estates has incorporated communal green areas, and limited car access to the site.