Scotland’s first community-owned passivhaus welcomes tenants

Image credit: DGSCHT. L-R: David Dick (director, NVLT), Jakob Kaye (community development and housing officer, NVLT), Mike Steele (director, NVLT) and Mike Staples (chief executive, DGSCHT)

THREE families have moved into Scotland’s first community-owned passivhaus, developed by Nith Valley LEAF Trust (NVLT) in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust (DGSCHT).

Representing Closeburn in Upper Nithsdale, NVLT is a community development trust. The project – funded by the Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund – has delivered three affordable homes which have been shortlisted in the 2020 #SURFAwards in the Housing and Regeneration category.

Having identified a gap-site in the village in the ownership of Dumfries and Galloway Council, NVLT secured ownership of the land via community asset transfer and the support of Scottish Land Fund, who also provided funding for NVLT to employ and train a project officer. In addition to capital grant from the Rural Housing Fund, the group also unlocked grants from Windfarm Community Benefit Funds (ANCBC and SSE Clyde) and a loan from Ecology Building Society.

NVLT worked with Stewart & Shields and John Gilbert architects to deliver three Passivhaus standard homes. These are homes described as being built with ‘meticulous’ attention to detail, ‘rigorous’ design and construction according to principles developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany and can be certified through an exacting quality assurance process. These homes require significantly less energy for heating and hot water than standard buildings.

Kevin Stewart MSP, Scottish Government minister for local government, housing and planning, said, “This ambitious project shows what a community can achieve when empowered to take local decisions. Supported by over £300,000 from the Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund, these new homes will grow and sustain the community as well as providing safe, warm and affordable places to live.”

Jakob Kaye, project officer, NVLT, added, “Working on the Closeburn Passivhoos project has been an incredibly positive experience on so many levels. There is a real sense of pride amongst the community that we are able to provide environmentally friendly and economically warm homes to local families at affordable rents. We hope that this project will prove to other similar rural communities that this is a game changing solution to various issues. The fact that these homes owned by the community trust not only gives a sense of security to the families living there but bolsters the sustainability of the local amenities such as the primary school.”