About us

The homes

What’s the layout of the site?

The site is a 2.5 hectare south-facing strip by the River Lune on the edge of the village of Halton, three miles from the City of Lancaster. We built 41 homes, ranging from one bedroomed flats to three bedroomed houses, arranged in terraces on either side of the Common House. We built or refurbished a range of other communal buildings which are shared by all members, including a laundry, guest rooms, children’s room, store rooms and bike and tool sheds. Here is a site plan and a (slightly out of date now) Common House and shared space layout.

When were the houses built?

We bought the site in 2009, finished the collaborative design in 2010, and gained planning permission and appointed a building contractor in 2011. The homes were completed between August 2012 and August 2013.

What certification do the houses have?

The homes are all certified to Passivhaus standard. They also achieved Code for Sustainable Homes level 6 and Lifetime Homes certification.

How many homes are there?

We built 41 homes, ranging from one bedroomed flats to three bedroomed houses.

How big are the houses? What are they built of?

The 41 homes are standard build (block and slate). They were designed to be slightly smaller than average as the shared communal space is seen as an extension to our homes. The approx floor plans are here. The total floor areas are:

1 bed flat (upstairs) with bed loft - 54.8m²

1 bed flat (ground floor) - 40.4m²

2 bed house (2 storey) - 65.4m²

3 bed house  (2 storey) - 80.8m²

3 bed house (2 storey ‘upside down house) - 80.8m²

3 bed house  (3 storey 98.1m²)

Are the control systems in the homes hard to understand?

The Home User Guide explains the control systems in the Passivhauses and the principles for managing the heating.

Do the houses get stuffy in summer?

The homes are very comfortable to live in. The mechanical ventilation and heating controls are quite simple once you’ve got the hang of them – your neighbours will be happy to help, or look in the Home User Guide. Contrary to popular belief, it’s fine to open the windows in a passivhaus.  This helps with keeping the homes cool in summer.

How do you pay for electricity and heat?

Each home is individually metered for electricity, heat and hot water. The Finance team bills us every quarter, and we pay by monthly direct debit.

Can homes have TV?

Yes of course. Residents are responsible for their own TV licence. The Common House also has a TV licence for watching programmes together.

Is there a wifi service available?

Yes you can get several different broadband networks. Most residents have Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN), a community-owned, hyperfast broadband which has some of the fastest broadband speeds in the world. We helped lay the ducting to bring it to our homes.

Is it possible to hang pictures and fixtures?

It’s not a problem to hang pictures and fittings. There’s a Home User Guide with instructions to avoid puncturing the air tight layer on the outer walls (p11).

Are pets allowed?

Yes. To promote a harmonious relationship among pets, pet owners, and non-pet-owners and a peaceful, clean, and safe environment for all, we have a Pet Policy for pets that go outside, and some supplementary Pet policy guidance. Some members have managed to install a cat flap in a way that doesn’t compromise the Passivhaus air tightness.

Is there scope for gardening?

Our 'personal' outside space consists of our decking/terrace and balcony (if any) and the area sheltered by the front porch. Heron Bank homes also have small private gardens front and back. Members, of course, choose the plants in their own decking/terrace or garden, but we ask that they do this in a way that minimises the risk of non-native plants escaping into the shared gardens and the local ecosystem. Guidance is available.

All other outside space is shared by us all, and managed by the Land Service Team (LAST) which welcomes gardeners! Their strategy takes into account our high-level cohousing aim (and Planning Obligation) to minimise our impact on the environment, including our impact on the local ecosystem.

Is smoking allowed?

Not in the communal areas. Of course, people can smoke in their own house, though we ask that they are sensitive to close neighbours if the windows are open.