Green Light for All-Electric Community Energy Housing Scheme Love Wolverton

10 August 2021

The 'Love Wolverton' scheme, for developer TOWN, was approved by Milton Keynes council last week, a decision described by TOWN as a ‘huge milestone for all involved’.

The project promises to deliver homes for rent that will be seven percent bigger than national space standards and reduce carbon emissions against standard Building Regulations by 70 percent. Altogether, £45m will now be invested in Wolverton, on the northern edge of Milton Keynes, over the next three years.

The redevelopment of the Agora Centre will provide 115 new homes, shops and community space laid out around new and reinstated streets in the historic railway town.

"Love Wolverton has been an exciting and demanding project.

Acoustically speaking, the main challenge was to balance both the acoustic and thermal comfort in terms of overheating control, which we successfully addressed by adapting our strategy for incorporating blinds. Looking back, it has been a long journey and I am even more delighted to see all our hard work has eventually paid off now that we’ve received planning approval from Milton Keynes Council. It will remain a special project of my career due to the outstanding commitment of the whole team." - Giorgio Agostini, Acoustic Engineer at Max Fordham 

Working alongside several leading design practices, including URBED, Mikhail Riches Architects and Mole Architects, we were appointed as M&E Engineers and Acoustic Consultants for the large-scale scheme, which places low carbon at the heart of its design:

  • All electric utilising air source heat pumps (ASHP) for heating and hot water generation, with underfloor heating to maximise ASHP performance.
  • Roof space solar panels maximised, with generation routed back to a central battery. Dwellings can purchase their electricity through the Community Energy Service Company (CESCo) which brings with it many advantages, such as the central battery allowing all of the on-site electricity generated by the PV to be used on-site, and being able to decouple the electrical demand of the site from peak demand on the grid. Both allow the operator to purchase electricity for less money, therefore being able to sell electricity to the occupants at below market rates.  The profits generated will be community-owned so that they can be reinvested in further energy efficiency schemes within the local community with the potential for customers beyond the site boundaries added in future.
  • High performing fabric, significantly above building regulations with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery ventilation providing highly efficient, healthy background ventilation.
  • External blinds to high solar exposed facades provide a passive approach to overheating, with modelling carried out using CIBSE TM59 methodology.
  • Low embodied carbon through the use of cross laminated timber (CLT) frames. All residential elements of the development (approx. 85% by floor area) are to be constructed in CLT frame.
  • Plans to fit 12 residential units with sensors to measure performance and record temperature, relative humidity and volatile organic compounds. The data will be analysed and used by the site management team.
  • Car-free streets and shared courtyard spaces that give residents greater amenity than their plot alone
  • The dwellings have an 70% reduction in calculated carbon emissions compared to the Part L requirements.

“Planning permission is a vital milestone in any project. Here, it’s the culmination of years of co-operative work between council officers and elected members, our team and above all the Wolverton community who have campaigned tirelessly to have the Agora replaced by a development worthy of the town. Reconciling the constraints of the site with demanding policy and community expectations of design, conservation, sustainability and affordability was a huge challenge but, with planning achieved and the council’s investment in place, we’re looking forward to working with partners to make it reality.” - Neil Murphy, Director of TOWN