Passivhaus Affiliate

Community-led homes strive for Passivhaus in Halton Mill

Lune Valley Community Land Trust was searching to establish a new, better way of building quality community housing. They realised they could not do this alone. They found collaborators with delivery & funding partner South Lakes Housing and gained additional funding from Lancaster City Council and Homes England.

Twenty new affordable homes, targeting Passivhaus, were recently completed on a once-derelict brownfield site at Halton near Lancaster. Lune Walk is a development of 13 affordable rented and 7 shared ownership homes, configured into 16 two-storey terrace houses and four cottage flats. The homes will remain affordable in perpetuity as Community Land Trusts are able to avoid the right-to-buy legislation that affects housing associations and local authorities.

The layout, designed by PHT member John Gilbert Architects, is as efficient as possible and promotes community interaction. The scale, width and design of the pedestrian street are crafted to make a friendly, human-scale space where residents and the community can walk, cycle, chat and play. Parking is kept to the edge of the development, maximising social space for residents and ensuring a fundable density of development. Orientation of the homes also minimised the felling of a band of protected trees to the east. 


Halton Mill Affordable Homes. Image credit: John Gilbert Architects


 This scheme is evidence of the amazing power of local partnerships. Lancaster City Council has been delighted to provide direct support to Lune Walk, our first local community led housing scheme providing 20 new affordable homes in the Lancaster district. The passivhaus standard achieved completely aligns to the council’s actions on climate change and in tackling fuel poverty. Given the unprecedented demand for social and affordable housing locally, the new homes have provided much needed housing for local residents in housing need.

 Caroline Jackson, Cabinet member for Housing, Lancaster City Council


Key stats

Construction: Timber frame 

Number of homes: 20 (in 6 blocks)

TFA:  1523 m2

Building work started: 2021

Completed: 2023

Certified: Aiming for Passivhaus

Halton Mill Community Homes. Image credit: John Gilbert Architects



The timber frame homes are built by a contractor for whom it was their first Passivhaus project. 

Halton Mill: Philip Helm from R P Tyson Construction  “It was one of those projects which ignites the imagination, within a month of winning the project, we felt like we were doing a Passivhaus PhD!”


Overall U-values 

Floor: 0.10 W/m2K                             

Concrete over XPS insulation

Halton Mill Community Homes under construction. Image credit: John Gilbert Architects

Wall: 0.13  W/m2K

Twin stud wall, insulated with mineral wool

Roof: 0.10  W/m2K

Cold roof build up with mineral wool between and over roof joists


Building performance 

Designed energy performance 

Airtightness n50 (≤ 0.6ACH @ 50 Pa)                           


0.49 @ 50 Pa


Heating Load (≤ 10 W/m²)


9.69 W/m²


Primary Energy Renewable (PER) Demand (≤ 60 kWh/m².a*)    


57.3 kWh/m².a


 *+/-15 kWh/m².a allowance if offset by energy generation. See Passivhaus criteria

Figures provided are for a typical unit on the project

Halton Mill Community Homes. Image credit: John Gilbert Architects

Building services 

The homes are all-electric, with the communal areas on the development aiming to use electricity from local renewable energy sources, e.g.the local hydroelectricity plant on the River Lune. Each unit has its own air source heat pump and MVHR (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery) unit. 


 It’s really important to pay attention to the most vulnerable in our society. Providing affordable, low energy, community homes is a win-win, good for people, the planet and the housing provider. Passivhaus homes are good for health and people don’t get in rent arrears. We see this as a demonstration project. It is the only way to build houses fit for the 21st century.

Charles Ainger, Chair, Lune Valley Community Land Trust

Lessons learned 

  • For many of the partners involved in this scheme, Lune Walk was their first Passivhaus development and delivering this project has been a steep learning curve for how to design, cost and build Passivhaus homes. 

Halton Mill Affordable Homes. John Gilbert Architects Director Matt Bridgestock said: “This is the first time the team has worked together, a partnership that has been a great success. Bringing together Passivhaus standard and social housing is a big step towards eliminating fuel poverty for residents and the car-free design has additional benefits for residents and the community.”


  • The scheme was a design and build contract, which enabled the architects to advise the client in the early stages on optimising the design, helping to reduce costs whilst supporting the contractor during the build phase, ensuring that risk was not unneccessarily priced into the project.

  • As part of the planning conditions, Lancaster City Council required that the project team share expertise about Passivhaus construction with local contractors, suppliers and architects. This included engaging the supply chain with events such as a Passivhaus training workshop during Big Green Week - well attended by builders and contractors. The project has been the subject of many site visits, and knowledge and skills were spread across the supply chain, with 1000 training days provided and 23 subcontractors upskilled.

  • Post-occupancy evaluation on the homes will be undertaken with Lancaster University in due course.


Key team 

  • Clients: Lune Valley Community Land Trust & South Lakes Housing

  • Architect & Passivhaus Designer: John Gilbert Architects

  • Contractor: Tyson Construction

  • Structural engineer:  R G Parkins and Partner

  • Employers Agent / QS: Elliott Associates

  • Passivhaus Certifier: WARM

Halton Mill Community Homes. Image credit: John Gilbert Architects


You may also like

How to build a Passivhaus
Passivhaus Social Housing
How to build a Passivhaus: Good Practice Guide

Further information 

Halton Mill Community Homes

Passivhaus Social

Previous PHT Story: Local Passivhaus policies - 6 May 2022

Previous PHT Story: Social housing championing Passivhaus at scale - 12 May 2021


24th October 2023

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