Milton Keynes: best property in Britain?

Graham Norwood discovers why a Wimpey development in Milton Keynes could be named the best building in Britain

A Milton Keynes housing estate built by one of the country's biggest developers may be about to win an unexpected accolade – the award for the best property in Britain.

The scheme, called Oxley Woods, was built by George Wimpey and is competing against specialist eco-homes, a lovingly restored medieval cottage and a series of other properties in the final stage of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' (RICS) awards to find the nation's finest property.

Oxley Woods was designed by the architects behind the Pompidou Centre in Paris, who were asked to create an estate of futuristic-looking houses.

Each home has an "eco-hat" chimney that removes warm air from communal parts of the house, augments it with solar power from panels serving the whole development, then re-circulates it to individual living rooms. The homes produce 40 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions than conventional new houses of a similar size and 50 per cent less when the eco hat is used to help heat the water systems.

As a bonus, the homes look really funky too. "They offer local people the opportunity to live in sustainable homes for the future with energy-saving features which are set to shape the way homes are built across the UK," says Wimpey spokesman Peter Gurr.

One of Oxley's competitors is a medieval cottage in Somerset which had been derelict before being restored by a husband and wife team over nine years. The grade II-listed building is "a wonderful testimony to how individuals can produce real quality and end up with a special home," according to Simon Potts, a chartered surveyor and chair of the award judges for the 11th year. "The couple used traditional local materials and it was a daunting project. The man was the builder and the woman was the conservation expert. The result is magnificent."

There are four award categories: the sustainability section looks at using recycled construction materials and energy-efficient building techniques as well as addressing waste and transport issues; regeneration recognises housing and other schemes that improve the vitality and prosperity of an area; conservation assesses the standards of restoration and renovation; while community benefit examines how local people gain facilities and status from a building – and possibly have a hand in constructing it, too.

Many of the 54 entries short-listed from the original 350 entries are offices, community buildings or commercial premises. But there are also short-listed entries from niche residential developers such as Ecos Homes. This firm's scheme at Langport, Somerset, is Great Bow Wharf, a warehouse that has been converted into eco-homes. The end result is "an example of how environmentally well thought out a house can be," according to the Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, who will host the RICS awards ceremony in central London on Friday.

Two other mainstream house builders – Crest Nicholson and Barratt Homes – are involved in another short-listed entry in the regeneration category, the New England Quarter in Brighton.

Within this scheme of 355 new homes for 1,000 residents, 30 per cent is designated as affordable and managed by a housing association. Each home has solar panels, a wood-burning boiler, a solar-powered recharging point for electric cars, as well as small wind turbines and an allotment serving the entire quarter.

The development also incorporates shops, offices and community facilities in a bid to discourage residents from using cars.

"The four categories overlap and standards were very high. But one thing stands out amongst almost every potential winner," says Potts. "That is sustainability – it dominates so many entries and so much of our building. It's our future, which is what makes it so important in these awards."



For more information about the awards, visit www.rics.org

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week