English Partnerships will ask six housing developers to submit zero carbon designs for a former hospital site near Bristol

The first site in English Partnerships' competition to build zero carbon homes has gone out to tender.

Hanham Hall, a 6.1 hectare former hospital site near Bristol, is the first site to come forward in EP’s Carbon Challenge initiative, dubbed the Green £60k house competition.

EP said the aim of the competition is to prove that zero carbon homes are economical on a commercial scale.

All 150 homes on the site are expected to meet the top level of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The exact definition of a level 6 home is yet to be confirmed but EP said that zero carbon means that the amount of energy taken from the grid is less than or equal to the amount put back through renewable technologies.

Six developers will be chosen to submit plans against a detailed design brief for the site. The design brief has been drawn up by architect John Thompson Partners and environmental consultant ESD.

It is thought the small-scale Carbon Challenge developments will provide a testing ground for Gordon Brown’s plans for five eco-towns providing up to 100,000 zero-carbon homes across the country.

English Partnerships project manager Jayne Lomas said building zero carbon homes remained a real challenge. She said: “This effectively brings the zero carbon homes of the future a significant step closer to reality – a hugely important development in the fight against climate change.

“The Government has made it clear that all new homes will need to be zero carbon from 2016 and the Carbon Challenge will help demonstrate to the construction industry how this can be achieved. And we need to start now – 2016 is less than a decade away – and nobody should underestimate the challenge of achieving zero carbon.”

The second site, a 10ha plot at Glebe Road, near Peterborough, will go out to tender next.