The arrival of demolition contractors to a derelict church in Hemel Hempstead on Monday marked the beginning of the first social housing build in Dacorum for more than two decades.
The nine two-bedroom eco-friendly flats will sit on theformer site of St Peter’s Church on Galley Hill, Gadebridge, and are due to be completed in December next year.
Monday saw the project get under way after nearly seven years in the planning.
The development is the first building project in Hertfordshire to use Passivhaus technology, and is expected to cost around £1.2 million – about 10 per cent more than what the borough would normally expect to spend to meet building regulations.
Passivhaus is a German building concept patented in 1990, and homes built using its technology cost just £100 to heat annually.
This is due to the buildings’ compact shape, extra-thick insulation and triple glazing, meaning the air tightness is 10 times higher than the standard building regulations.
The mechanical ventilation system means the humidity and air temperature remain almost constant all year round, preventing the formation of condensation and mould.
Portfolio holder for housing Margaret Griffiths said: “Passivhaus gives the homeowners very low maintenance on the heating, which is very important in this time when heating costs are going up.”
“As to whether we use this style of housing in the future, we will have to see what the costs are like.”
Councillor for Gadebridge Roger Taylor said: “We’ve had to put a lot of time, effort and energy in – it’s been on my agenda for 61/2 years – but we’re actually seeing the portfolio holder for housing wield that hammer to symbolically start the demolition on the old site.”
Vicar for the parish of Warners End and Gadebridge Rev.Pete Stevenson said: “It’s such a delight to see that land which has been a blessing to so many people for so many years will become a place for safe housing.
“I’m very pleased the council is regenerating the site, and I look forward to seeing it go up over the coming months.”