Latest Passivhaus development proceeds despite cost concerns

Monday November 13th 2023

Newbattle High School in Easthouses

Grier Edmead, Operations Director, Ogilvie Construction is pictured on the left with Midlothian Council's Cabinet Member for housing, Councillor Stuart McKenzie.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Midlothian Council are pressing ahead with their most ambitious energy-efficient housing development despite councillors agreeing a pause to Passivhaus development last month.

Last month councillors were concerned by the difference in costs and called for more information about the benefits of the housing when compared with other options. Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Stuart McKenzie said:

“This was a decision made at council to use Passivhaus and I am not saying that was the wrong decision.

“I think at the time we made the right decision for the right reasons, but if the chamber is content I would like to propose we pause the use of Passivhaus so we can better understand the cost variants and why it is coming out significantly more expensive.

“It could be that we move forward with Passivhaus in the future or find another way to provide houses that are just as warm.”

Councillors agreed to the pause but any projects that were already in progress would still go ahead. One such project is the £25 m project will see 90 Passivhaus homes built on the site of the old Newbattle High School in Easthouses.

Last week ground was broken, meaning the developemnet project has begun on the site in Easthouses. Contractor Ogilvie Construction is building a mixture of flats, houses and bungalows on behalf of the council.

The 90 properties will be among 207 council homes across Midlothian, all designed to the demanding Passivhaus Standard. The buildings retain heat from the sun and require very little additional heating or cooling. The work is expected to finish in 2025.

Just short of 2,000 council homes have been built or are on site since the council launched its ambitious affordable home programme nearly 20 years ago.

More than £352 million has been invested in building affordable, high-quality, sustainable, and energy-efficient council homes with a further £77.6 million committed.

As part of the 2024/25-2028/29 Strategic Housing Improvement Plan (SHIP), the council is committed to building 832 homes within the SHIP’s timeframe.

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