Walking up Cranes Lane in Basildon away from the tractor factory, you enter an elliptical courtyard, sunlight playing on warm coloured brickwork, cream render and natural timber boarding. As the ground rises, the curved terraces close the space, and you then pass through a small gap into a country lane with views of the historic Holy Cross Church.
This is New Cranes Court, a very low carbon development of 16 houses and 12 flats that replaces 1970’s hostel accommodation, the design of which attracted anti-social behaviour due to poorly-defined public and private spaces. All the new family houses and ground floor flats now provide a safe environment with secure private gardens.
As an exemplar of eco-friendly place making, the development was certified to Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, with expected typical running costs for a 4 bedroom house of £6 per week for heating, lighting and hot water.
Swan were keen that Code Level 6 was achieved, but the planners refused solar panels due to the proximity to the Listed church. High energy efficiency was achieved with triple glazing, highly insulated factory-made timber frame panels, with larger windows facing south and efficient ventilation systems with energy recovery. To provide carbon neutral electricity and hot water to all homes a glycerol bio-fuelled combined heat and power plant was installed. Any surplus electricity can be returned to the grid. Low water use WCs and bathroom fittings reduce water demand, and flood reducing SUDS drainage is included. Sustainable materials were used throughout.