Meet the families helping to design the energy-efficient homes of the future

Four families in Bath and North East Somerset will be moving in to the region’s first Passivhaus homes at the end of the month. The ultra energy efficient homes were built by Homes for the South West member, Curo, at their 700-home development in Bath, Mulberry Park, and have been let at social rent to local families in housing need.

The residents were shown around the new homes by Curo Chief Executive, Victor da Cunha.

Victor says: “A truly sustainable place to live needs to be energy efficient, spacious and have access to good quality open spaces as well as being close to public transport, shops, schools and other important community services.”

“That’s precisely what we’ve been trying to do at Mulberry Park over recent years and these new, more energy efficient homes will help us continue to shape our designs, so the homes of the future are even more affordable for residents and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

“We know that these first four pilot homes for rent will help us set the standards for that home of the future, and these new residents will play a critical role in helping us learn and improve our designs, so we can roll out more and more of them. I want to thank the families for agreeing to provide us with the ongoing feedback we need and wish them well in their new home.”

“This home is like a shining glimmer of hope,” says Nick Harvey, one of the new residents.

For the last 12 months, Nick has been living at his mother’s house where he shared a bedroom with his three sons aged six, four and two.

Nick says: “There was a series of circumstances that pushed us into this situation. This past year has been quite difficult for us but now I feel like I’m finally able to provide the home my boys deserve; they deserve to grow up in a safe, secure home where they can thrive. They are so excited about moving to a home of our own – my eldest who is 6 and has just started year 2 is absolutely over the moon. I really think that the boys and I will be very happy here.

Curo resident Nick Harvey with two of his sons

“It’s fantastic that our new home is better for the environment and cheaper to run too, that will help a lot. I’m also very much looking forward to being part of the community. Mulberry Park is looking amazing – I’ve been watching the development take shape over the past few years; gorgeous looking houses, a school and nursery – where I hope to move my boys to – and a community café  right on our doorstep. This will be perfect for us.”

Nick’s next-door neighbour, Jade Hamzelou, is an experienced music teacher, a harpist and singer. In normal times, she would play the harp at weddings and work with charities to bring music into hospitals. Since the pandemic, she has been focusing on providing harp lessons online and, with restrictions easing off, in person as well.

Curo resident Jade Hamzelou and her daughters at their new home at Mulberry Park, Bath

Jade and her three daughters aged 12, six and four, currently live in a 1950s maisonette in a block of flats.

She says: “I feel very excited about the opportunity to live in a low-carbon home that also costs less to run. This is a huge improvement from our current living situation, where we have mainly concrete and timber construction with minimal insulation and only electric heating and hot water.

“Presently, my heating bills are very high in the winter. With three children to look after, this is very difficult for me to afford. It’s also fantastic that within our new home we will be able to do more for the environment.”

Jade and her daughters are also looking forward to having a garden and enjoying their own bit of outdoor space, as well as being part of the vibrant community at Mulberry Park.

Jade says: “Having the community Hub on our doorstep is just fantastic and it’s great that I can use the spaces there for my business. My youngest two daughters are in Reception and year 2 and they will be joining the fantastic new school at Mulberry Park – they’re very excited.”

Mike, who is a landscape gardener and has a background in building, is very interested in seeing how the new home will be performing. He is moving in one of the new Passivhaus homes with his partner Sarah and their two daughters.

Mike says: “I think these homes are a brilliant idea and will provide a much healthier way of living for our family.

“We know our new home comes with some slight differences in the way it needs to be operated in order to get the best energy efficiency and we look forward to making these changes not only for lower bills but also to do our bit for the environment.

“The house is much larger than our current home, so we are looking forward to more space. We’re also very excited about the community itself and the future park that Curo will be building. For the first time, we’ll be able to walk both our daughters to school as they go to local schools in Combe Down.

“It would be a totally different lifestyle to the way we’re living now – much better, positive and full of hope for the future. It’s a dream come true.”

Bath-resident Lana Murphy and her daughter, 11, and son, 4, are moving over to Mulberry Park from a two-bed flat. 

Lana says: “I’m so excited to move into this new home with my children, and to have a garden! My daughter is thrilled because she’ll have her own big bedroom. She’s really looking forward to it and has already picked out all her furniture, she couldn’t be happier.”

Just over 30% of the new homes at Mulberry Park are being delivered as affordable housing for rent and Shared Ownership. The development is already home to more than 300 families and benefits from a state-of-the-art community Hub and Café, primary school and nursery, as well as great transport links to the city centre. Over the next couple of years Curo will build eight more Passivhaus-certified homes at Mulberry Park, which will be sold on the open market.