Council to build 800-home flagship development to lower eco standard to preserve land value

Councillors on the Isle of Wight have decided against making a flagship development zero carbon because of the high cost of low-energy construction.

The housing is part of the Isle of Wight’s attempt to brand itself as an “eco-island”, self-sufficient in energy.

However, the 800-home development will now only be built to exceed level four of the Code for Sustainable Homes, rather than being zero carbon.

Sarah Mitchell, the director of community services, said the cost of trying to achieve code level six, along with about £7m of other community benefits, would have wiped out all of the value of the £30m council-owned site.

Mitchell said reaching code level four would reduce the value of the land by £7m, reflecting the extra construction cost. Reaching level five would have reduced it by £15m. Mitchell said construction cost for each square metre rose from £924 to £1,220 in moving from code level three to code level five.

Mitchell said: “There are lots of tensions over raising aspirations on sustainability. Some of our members saw this site as a bit of a cash cow and it is a credit to them they saw it was worth pushing for level four.”

She added: “We concluded that reaching level six would have pushed the site into a negative value,” by which she meant that it would involve handing over the site to developers for nothing and subsidising construction.

The development, on a 23ha site, will act as an urban extension to Newport and will include 30% affordable housing. Miller Homes has been chosen to build the scheme.