Zehnder | Case Study – Knights Place in Exeter

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Case Study – Knights Place in Exeter

Built to the highest level of energy efficient construction, with MVHR from Zehnder Group UK, Knights Place in Exeter has set new PassiveHaus design standards within the social housing sector.


Knights Place PassiveHaus housing is a sustainable social housing development of 18 one and two-bedroom apartments, designed by Gale & Snowden Architects for Exeter City Council.

Built with meticulous attention to detail, the two blocks have been designed to strict PassiveHaus standards, which deliver high comfort levels for residents via a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery (MVHR). This produces consistent and uniform internal temperatures and excellent air quality whilst minimising energy use for heating and cooling, resulting in significantly reduced energy bills. Knights Place is amongst the first multi-residential, certified PassiveHaus houses in the UK.

With MVHR an integral feature of all PassiveHaus developments, it was essential that a highly efficient, quality MVHR system was specified for Knight’s Place, enabling the buildings to meet stringent energy performance criteria. Offering excellent rewards in Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) through the Dwelling Emission Rates calculation, Zehnder’s ComfoAir 200 whole house heat recovery system was specified for each apartment. Guaranteeing the provision of optimum quality indoor air all year round, the CA200 recovers heat from the warm air extracted from kitchens and bathrooms and transfers it to the fresh incoming air supplied to living rooms and bedrooms. The CA200 system provides both the ventilation and heating needs at Knights Place – no other heating system is required. As the heat loss in each flat is so minimal, this is met during winter extremes via a small air heater in the supply air duct just after the heat exchanger.


Possible privare section accommodation for over-55s

Over the weekend I was speaking to an someone who had a relative living in Homecroft Court in Bartholomew Street West.

That relative had passed away and the person I was speaking to was telling me of the difficulty they had selling the 1-bed accommodation on the open market. They said that they had tried offering the property to Exeter City Council but was told that this was not possible to take on the flat.

I was told that even though this flat has now been sold, I am informed that there are currently several other units for sale, perhaps as many as 13

I thought ECC was always looking for this sort of property, especially for the over-55 market and tt made me think.  Is there no viable scheme – EXtraLet (a social needs Letting Agency using leased stock), Private Sector Leasing (using leased properties to help families who have become homeless), or something else – that can allow ECC to manage this sort of accommodation in these circumstances?

But it seems that the demand for over 55 accommodation from the housing register is low to non-existent at present and it is for that reason that ECC generally do not take such accommodation on as PSL or Extralet accommodation.

The Passivhaus flats in Knights Place was designed and built as over 55 accommodation, yet it has bee a challenge letting these. On this basis, ECC has taken the decision to amend the majority of future Council Own Build to family homes.

It seems almost contradictory with such a perceived housing need that we should turn away any accommodation. The reality however is that demand is focussed on ‘general needs’ housing and the specific demand for over 55 accommodation is minimal.

ECC  will shortly be commencing a ‘root and branch’ analysis of housing need (we have generally relied on the housing register to define what is required). We need to map need across a wider tenure base (social and private housing need) to see what initiatives and measures can be put in place to fully utilise all the accommodation across the city.

By way of an illustration of the disparity of need when considering the housing register – of the 672 households in the Band B category of the housing register 37% of these households have not bid on a house in the last 6 months. Band B are the highest housing need (bar a very small number in Band A (emergency), if these households are not bidding it suggests that they are satisfied with their present accommodation or the accommodation coming available does not serve their needs enough to want to move.