This Land demonstrates commitment to sustainability with net zero carbon office planning approval

This Land™ has demonstrated its commitment to delivering sustainable developments by securing planning approval for the conversion of a barn into a highly sustainable office building and three new-build homes in the village of Horningsea, Cambridgeshire.


The project will see the conversion of an existing agricultural barn into a modern, net zero office and the construction of three new modern detached homes. Once completed, the office will become This Land’s new office, with the three homes sold on the open market.


The office will be an exemplar example of low cost and environmental impact whilst achieving ultra-high levels of sustainability in terms of the building’s energy consumption and carbon emissions. The building, designed by Stagg Architects, has been designed with a fabric first approach in mind, being highly insulated and naturally ventilated. Consideration has been given to the building’s orientation in relation to the size and distribution of glazing to balance good daylighting with the risk of overheating, resulting in a building with very low energy consumption.


Demonstrating that sustainability can be delivered at low cost and the practice of responsible procurement, recycled materials will be used where possible. This includes roof slates and flooring that will be retained from existing buildings. The use of new materials, such as concrete, will be kept to an absolute minimum through considered design.


The building, which will include PV panels on the south-facing roof, has been designed so that it requires very little energy to operate. This means that with gradual de-carbonisation of the electricity grid, the building will eventually become zero-carbon in terms of its operational energy.


The 90m2 barn has suffered from years of neglect, however its brick structure and foundations are structurally sound. The proposal will see the creation of a mezzanine level that will double the size of useable space, without the need for increasing the building’s footprint.


The three new family houses, designed by architects designFUSE, will follow many of the design and sustainability principles established from the conversion of the barn.  Designed in a modern barn style, the homes will also be built with a fabric first approach. Consideration has been given to the use of materials with a focus on high levels of insulation, increased airtightness to minimise heat loss and maximising solar gain in the winter months to reduce heating requirements and therefore energy use. Externally the new homes will feature slate roofs and cladding, ensuring they blend with their rural surroundings.


“The site in Horningsea has provided the opportunity to create three modern homes whilst demonstrating best practice in terms of our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments,” commented David Lewis, Chief Executive at This Land. “We are currently in rented office accommodation, with very limited ability to make improvements in terms of environmental impact and running costs. By implementing low cost and low environmental impact improvements to the barn we will be able to create an office that will be an exemplar in terms of common sense sustainable development, reducing our overheads and environmental impact.”


Ecology will be a key element across the scheme, with a target of biodiversity net gain of 10%, meaning an introduction of 10% new vegetation species to the site, whilst protecting the existing nature. This will include the inclusion of a number of drought resistant species. This will ensure the new planting will be able to cope with periods of drought brought on by an anticipated warmer environment due to climate change, whilst reducing the need for irrigation and watering.


Stagg Architects were chosen for the office project following their successful delivery of a refurbishment of the 1977 office of CABE (Chartered Association of Building Engineers) in Northampton. At this project they employed a similar approach in terms of low financial outlay, with a focus on reuse and recycle, but with high sustainability gains, helping the organisation as part of a goal to be net zero by 2025.