A £50 million housing project in Swindon has marked a major milestone as its highest point was completed in a ‘topping out’ ceremony.
Nationwide Building Society, which has its headquarters in the town, is sponsoring the Oakfield project to test how quality, sustainable, community focussed homes can be built without taking a profit. And, to encourage other responsible businesses to get involved in tackling the UK’s housing crisis, it has promised to share everything it learns.
Working with the Borough Council, the building society selected a derelict brownfield site in Swindon, between Walcott and Covingham just off Drakes Way – a site it says other developers didn’t consider viable to build on.
Then, as project sponsor, it set about the task of creating a new neighbourhood of 239 homes.
The project, is set to become one of the UK’s largest communities built to such high standards of sustainability (Editor’s note: mind you – our editorial team have received a lot of similar claims, so we can’t be sure it’s the largest – but it’s great to see a building society actively supporting the project). It will also be one of the biggest off-gas housing developments.
The traditional ‘topping out’ celebration of reaching the highest point of construction was hosted by Mi-space, part of Midas Construction, and attended by Nationwide alongside scheme development manager Igloo Regeneration and other project partners and members of the local community. The highest point will, once construction is completed, become ‘the Hub’ – a shared space for the community to meet, share and enjoy.
Sara Bennison, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Nationwide Building Society, said: “Reaching this point of construction and seeing Oakfield take shape is an exciting moment. Oakfield goes to the heart of our purpose as a building society. Through our mutual approach, and working with experts in the field, we’re proving that homes can be more environmentally friendly and community focused.”
Steve Hart, Director at Midas, said: “Reaching the highest point of construction for Oakfield is an exciting and proud moment as we support Nationwide in their mission to create a truly trailblazing development that will have a long-lasting green impact.
“This scheme promotes the highest standards of construction and energy efficiency and we are thrilled to be able to play our part in offering residents innovative properties which will hopefully become a benchmark for future developments across the country.”
With just a fraction of new properties built nationally currently meeting EPC-A rated standards, all Oakfield properties are set to achieve EPC-A rating through a range of sustainable attributes such as air source heat pumps and photovoltaic solar panels. Of the 239 new homes, 71 will be available for affordable housing.
Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, has worked together with the local community, businesses and existing community groups, every step of the way, to make sure that the Oakfield project meets their expectations and needs; building a new neighborhood that will both connect and benefit communities.
Work on the Oakfield development began on site in April 2020. Construction is expected to take about three and a half years, with a ‘show home’ opening towards the end of 2021 and the first phase of new homes being completed in Spring 2022.