Show house opening at eco-homes development on former factory site in Westgate

Drftwood Mews

Eco homes are being created on a brownfield site that was formerly occupied by a furniture factory in Westgate.

The Driftwood Mews development in Suffolk Avenue has 12 homes being created in phase one of the scheme – due for completion in October – with another 11 or 12 with a different exterior design to be finished next year.

The homes will all be A-rated EPC certified due to air source heat pump central heating, solar panels, an electric vehicle charging point per property and heat recovery mechanical ventilation.

Development boss Graham Ross opened the Atmosphere factory site producing Lexerton brand furniture in 1995. A move to Manston Business Park with a downsizing of the business in 2021 opened the opportunity to create the new homes in what is thought to be Thanet’s first sustainable eco development on this scale.

The site had two factory properties, a barrel vault building that initially was going to be converted, and a modern workshop site. There was also an office building.

Graham said: “(The) eco theme is the socially responsible thing any builder should do. Not building homes for the future, with energy costs the way the are now and emissions you get from a house, is morally unjustifiable.”

The details of the homes will mean solar power could provide enough energy for householders to live on electricity produced by their property – depending on their energy consumption – resulting in zero cost energy bills.

Graham said: “You can’t legislate for people who might leave their windows open in the winter or run a tumble dryer daily but these two-bed homes generate energy so you can do the cooking, have the TV and fridge freezer etc.”

The properties have waste water heat recovery, so the waste water heat is used to warm cold water in the tank and a mechanical ventilation system that keeps air fresh but can also keep it warm.

There is also underfloor heating and hi-tech insulation.

Each home will collect free energy from the sun using PV (photovoltaic), or PV-T (photo-voltaic thermal) panels, with the potential to store surplus summer heat in the soil within the foundations of the building in an earth energy bank.

There is the additional option to store surplus electrical energy in a battery. The stored low-grade heat, can then be withdrawn for use within the building via a heat pump which raises the temperature to a level that can be used for space heating and domestic hot water.

Graham said the target market is wide, from starter homes to retirees.

He said: “They are packed with technology so people like first-time buyers have no other costs and we believe some mortgages recognise this type of house and so that people will be able to afford that mortgage more easily because they aren’t also facing huge electric bills.

“There is also wider potential for retiree, people who are living on a fixed income so their bills are managed, and hopefully will have a wide sort of community.”

The cost of building properties to an A rated EPC with the environmentally friendly aspects is greater than a standard build but Graham says: “They are two up two down, small houses but we think people will see the value in them.”

He added: “All the trades we have used have been very local, from architects to timber suppliers, they are all based at Manston near the factory.”

The Suffolk Avenue zero carbon project uses the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) definition of net zero carbon.

This includes:

  • Low energy use
  • Annual energy use and renewable energy generation on-site reported and independently verified in-use each year for the first 5 years.
  • Reducing construction impacts
  • Low carbon energy supply, heating and hot water should not be generated using fossil fuels.

A planning application for the development was initially lodged with Thanet council in 2018. Some objections were made in relation to access, traffic and parking and overlooking.

Amended plans were lodged in 2020 and permission was granted in 2021.

The Driftwood Mews homes by Square Circle Developments are on sale for £325,000. The show home is now complete and available to view.

The properties are being marketed by Miles & Barr.

Find more on the website here



        • I’ve often wondered in the past that in your haste to be the first to write a negative comment, if you actually read the article. Or just comment on the headline. These comments have done nothing to remove my doubts. The first one is simply untrue & I have no idea what public transport has to do with this story from the 2nd comment.
          As a writer yourself, I would like to think that you understand the importance of understanding everything that you have read. Before you make any comment on it. Good or bad.

          • I’ll let you work out what public transport has got to do with getting to and from a place of work. If you really, really, REALLY think about it, I’m sure you’ll get there eventually.

            Ms. Pink x

    • No: it has simply moved to Manston, and sensibly so. The repurposing of THIS brownfield site, however, has been brilliantly conceived and executed.

  1. These green specifications should be compulsory for all new builds. Hats off to Graham Ross for this forward thinking, future proofing approach.

  2. Superb energy specs, but what about the rainwater harvesting. Why is Southern Water accepting builds that do not manage grey and black water separately. Because they don’t care so long as they get their money, and dump the waste in our seas.

  3. Great to see a builder planning ahead but price is a bit high surely profit can still be made if sold for 250,000 then asking price there only 2 bed homes

  4. It is high time that TDC requires ALL new buildings to be energy neutral (or better), and to be designed and built to maximize solar energy production and managed storage for those who will occupy them. The cost of making that happen at the time of construction, especially when part of multi-dwelling or business-unit projects, won’t really cut much into profitability but hugely benefit those who occupy these buildings. That’s even more important in smaller properties made available to retirees or young buyers and tenants than it is for others who are earning very good salaries, but ALL should be expect no less now when moving into new properties.

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