The green and pleasant developments in Linmere

Linmere is a new and growing vibrant community, placing wellness at its heart, with universal access to green space and the outdoors. This ambition to create sustainable lives extends into all the places and facilities we make, including the buildings that bring our communities together. With sustainable building design playing a critical role in reducing carbon emissions across the planet, we showcase 2 projects, already successfully delivered, both offering model examples in sustainable place making.

According to The World Green Building Council (2019), our buildings are responsible for over 39% of global energy related carbon emissions, which is a staggering figure. With our global population expected to rise to 10 billion by 2050, doubling the current building stock, construction has a game-changing contribution to reducing our carbon emissions and achieving the universal ‘net-zero’ ambition.

Tackling carbon emissions in our building stock follows 2 simple principles. We develop new building stock with sustainable materials, and we design those buildings to operate sustainably throughout their lifetime of use. Both principles perform a critical role, with perhaps greater emphasis on building design to reduce the decades of lifetime emissions.

As part of Linmere Phase One, we hosted 2 community building projects for all generations of Linmere residents: The Thornhill School extension and the Farmstead community hub. Now delivered and fully operational, they offer living and breathing examples of how Linmere is leading the path to sustainable development.

Thornhill Primary School

This impressive development expanding the existing Thornhill school from a single-form to 3-form entry, entirely transformed the legacy facility. As well as the sustainable ambitions of the project, in both construction and energy efficiencies, the design set out to create a natural, stimulating and nurturing experience for pupils moving from infant to junior education.

Concepted by ECD Architects, developed by Keegan and Ashe Construction, with funding from Central Bedfordshire Council, the new 2-story facility and teaching block is arranged around a central playground, overlooked by transition spaces and a new access deck, providing a breakout facility for pupils to connect with outdoor space.

Construction used (what the industry describes as) ‘low embodied carbon’ materials, including Cross-Laminated Timber as the primary structural material. This was coupled with efficient thermal insulation to retain heat in colder months and designed ventilation in warmer conditions. Furthermore, the blend of light-coloured timber, ample glass and roof lighting improves the impact of ‘daylighting’ to draw in natural light and reduce dependency on electric power.

Achieving Passivhaus Standards, an independent Quality Assurance on energy efficiency, wellbeing and sustainable construction, the Thornhill school went on to win the national Pagabo award for Best Project: delivering sustainability outcomes, in 2022.

The farmstead community hub 

At the other side of Linmere Phase One, adjoining the ongoing groundworks on Phase Two, stands the Farmstead, designed by Norr Architects. The development offers Linmere its first community hub, with retail units, meeting spaces, a large 2-storey café unit and permanent office facilities, currently hosting the Linmere Development team.

The scheme houses 3 timber-framed ‘tithe style’ barns, adjoined by a shallow canopy, creating a central courtyard space, with an adventure playground fronting the development.

A large source of power is harnessed from 40 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, on one of the 6 roof spaces, facing southerly to make use of sun’s arc through the day. These are supplemented with Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) to power the café space, along ‘Structured Insulated Panels’ to retain internal heat and improve energy efficiency.

The magic of the Farmstead is characterised by extensive natural textures and access to daylight. All 3 buildings are clad in sustainably sourced Siberian Larch and glass, under recyclable zinc roofs, with persistent roof lighting to harness external light and reduce energy consumption. This is perfectly captured inside the café space, with its vast glass window illuminating the light amber timber across the ceiling.

A green and pleasant place to put down roots

Linmere Phase 2 is now breaking ground with additional community facilities in the pipeline. All of these will follow the development and lifetime principles that have already made Thornhill School and the Farmstead model examples of sustainable place making, as well as fantastic venues to learn, work and create a place to put down roots.

Linmere is designed to be a place for communities that embraces the natural environment, and where all generations can enjoy a great quality of life. This exciting new collection of leafy and walkable neighbourhoods, situated north of Houghton Regis Bedfordshire, located close to M1 Junction 11a. Nestled into verdant surroundings, its first homes completed and inhabited in 2021. The Land Trust will maintain and preserve these spaces on behalf of Houghton Regis Management Company.

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