Eco-friendly estates win green award

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As little as six years ago the Greenwich Millennium Village was one of the most polluted corners of Britain. Now it is home to several acres of meadow, large numbers of reed warblers and nearly 500 "sustainable" homes partially powered by their own waste.

As little as six years ago the Greenwich Millennium Village was one of the most polluted corners of Britain. Now it is home to several acres of meadow, large numbers of reed warblers and nearly 500 "sustainable" homes partially powered by their own waste.

The village, sited on the heavily contaminated remains of Europe's largest gas works, was yesterday named as the joint winner of a new award to recognise environmentally friendly new housing. The Greenwich development, which was praised for its transformation of an industrial landscape in south-east London, shared the prize with the redevelopment of the Childwall estate in the suburbs of Liverpool.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which organised the Sustainable New Homes Awards with a trade body, the House Builders' Federation, said that the two projects, chosen from a shortlist of nine, showed the wider acceptance of eco-friendly building techniques.

A WWF spokesman said: "This shows that sustainable housing has now entered the mainstream. We are not talking about ultra-modern 22nd-century technology but harnessing what we already know to build houses in a way and in places that are a pleasure to live in and help the environment."

The £250m Greenwich housing scheme, which will eventually comprise 1,400 homes to sit alongside the less-lauded Millennium Dome, was singled out for combining rehabilitation of polluted land with the use of innovative measures such as its power sources. The project has Britain's first combined heat and power (CHP) system in a private development - an on-site power plant which uses waste and solar energy to provide electricity and central heating for the site.

The development, a joint venture between two of Britain's largest developers, Countryside Properties and Taylor Woodrow, also includes an ecology park, which has attracted wildlife, including herons and skylarks.

Both the Greenwich scheme and the smaller Childwall project, which has provided 137 homes for £14m through a housing trust, provide a mix of social and private low-rise accommodation with some of the most environmentally-friendly features ever seen in British housing.

In both cases houses and flats contain energy-efficient lighting and appliances and waste-water and rainwater are recycled for lavatory flushing and use in gardens.

The Liverpool project was singled out for its innovative management scheme, which includes a partnership with residents to provide amenities such as a community restaurant, providing jobs for disabled people.

The House Builders' Federation said the projects showed the industry was succeeding in providing housing on brownfield sites which overcame environmentalists' objections against newbuild developments. But according to figures produced by the WWF, the developers still have a long way to go. A survey of the 13 largest housebuilders in Britain found that 47 per cent still lag behind best practice laid down for the industry.

GREENWICH MILLENNIUM VILLAGE

¿ Recognised for its rehabilitation of the heavily contaminated former site of Europe's largest gasworks at Greenwich in south-east London.

¿ Praised for pioneering use of energy-efficient communal power supply (CHP) using solar energy and fuel from waste. Waste-water and rainwater are recycled for lavatory flushing and garden use.

¿ As well as a 50-acre ecology park, the project includes an £11m reshaping of the Thames foreshore into terraces.

¿ When completed, Millenium Village will provide 1,400 homes in a mixture of social and private housing, including home office space.

¿ The Village was built using prefabricated shells and maximising recycling. Nearly 90 per cent of plasterboard waste was returned to the manufacturer for recycling.

¿ The estate includes a network of cycle routes and has good access to public transport.

¿ About 80 per cent of its residents said its environmental credentials had influenced their decision to buy at Millenium Village.

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