As the UK has set its sights on achieving net-zero by 2050, more and more measures will need to be put in place to make this happen, and St. Modwen, a leading developer of new communities and high-quality homes, has recently embarked on a venture with a forward-thinking approach.
The housebuilder plans to deliver up to 350 new all-electric homes on the historic MG Rover site that was once home to the MINI in Birmingham.
Sarwjit Sambhi, chief executive officer of St. Modwen, said: “Every organisation needs to be taking steps to deliver more sustainable products and services, but at St. Modwen we have taken leaps by introducing carbon-negative homes and smart-grid powered developments. We’re proving that greener homes can be delivered at a commercial scale, something which is not just the right thing for the environment but also allows us to meet the demand of our customers.”
A ’smart’ next-gen strategy
The way they will power these homes is by using a dedicated ‘smart grid’ which will supply and track electricity across a network of homes to ensure this first phase of residences will be 100% gas-free.
St. Modwen says it is continuing to pioneer sustainable new ways to build and power homes, making themselves front runners in the industry, since this innovation is believed to be the first used by a major developer.
The smart grid is being designed alongside SNRG, specialists in next-generation standards.
This latest move follows the launch earlier in 2022 of St. Modwen’s first carbon-negative home which was regarded as a landmark trial as they were able to make homes so airtight that they could return power to the UK grid.
The carbon-negative homes are designed to generate more energy than they consume, something made possible by using the latest construction techniques and embracing renewable technologies such as solar panels and heat pumps.
This plan could reduce a family’s total energy bills by 76% when compared with a standard new-build house.
This is a long-term strategy so various aspects of this trial will be deployed in the new electric homes and, in turn, across all recent developments by St. Modwen as carbon-reducing technology becomes standard practice.
Caroline Hill, managing director, Europe, head of Real Estate ESG at Blackstone, added: “This initiative demonstrates the role innovation can play in creating the greener, more sustainable homes we need for the future. Supporting our portfolio companies to be innovative is at the heart of what we do, and we hope it will lead to similar pioneering practices being adopted at scale and across different sectors.”
Outline planning was secured for the Longbridge site back in 2021 for a total of 350 new homes. The first phase of detailed planning is currently with the local authority, meaning new homes are expected to be completed by St Modwen Homes from autumn 2022.
Massive development in the pipeline
The vast site in South Birmingham is boosting the economy with 7,500 new jobs expected to be delivered over the coming years in Longbridge.
A large veterinary hospital, adjacent to the new electric homes, has also just started, which has seen over 100 new full-time jobs be created.
In addition, further new employees are anticipated to move to the area, including a global science business, as it becomes more established as a hub for science and technology, medicine, advanced manufacturing, and R&D.
The site has been made possible following £20 million of infrastructure investment in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) which has seen Longbridge extensively regenerated with homes, retail, education, and green spaces – all delivered to date.
Andy Street, mayor of West Midlands Combined Authority, added: “I congratulate St. Modwen on building the innovative green homes of the future right here in our region. These new homes will be wonderful places to live, boost energy efficiency and affordability and help us to tackle the climate emergency. Longbridge is a brilliant example that points the way to a more sustainable future for the West Midlands - fast becoming a fantastic hub from which to live, work and play as well as creating high-quality job opportunities for our local residents along the way. I’m pleased the West Midlands Combined Authority has been able to play its part – investing over £6m at Longbridge. I wish the scheme continued success.”
On completion of the regeneration, St. Modwen has plans to create 3,000 new homes, in a project comprising 2 million square feet of commercial floorspace and up to 10,000 jobs at Longbridge.