Straw Council Houses Get the Go Ahead

Planning permission has recently been granted for council houses in Britain to be made from straw. The semi-detached, three bedroom homes will be built in the villages of Martin and Waddington, in Lincolnshire. They will be the very first council properties to be commissioned by a local authority using strawbales.

Designed by the West Yorkshire-based straw specialists Amazonails, the homes will look similar to Britain’s traditional semi-detached family homes but carry a zero carbon footprint, while also boasting low energy running costs.

Due to the high insulation values of straw, the properties will be up to three times better insulated than UK building regulations actually require. They will also not need heating systems but wood burning stoves will be installed to cater for extremely cold weather.

Work is set to begin on the homes very soon and local residents and interested people will have the chance to come and watch it taking place. ‘This is a scheme that has not been matched by any other local authority,’ says District Council member, Marion Brighton. ‘It is hoped these houses, built through this new type of technology, will set a leading example to developers, housing associations and other councils throughout the country.’

Amazonails was set up 20 years ago as an all-female roofing and building firm. Its founder and director, Barbara Jones, has been involved in over 250 strawbale builds. Recently, she was named Woman of Outstanding Achievement by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, awarded for her innovation and entrepreneurship.

Around 400 bales will be needed for each house and the materials and labour will be sourced locally. Although strawbale properties have been around since the late 1990s, the technique is not yet mainstream. They are, however, the most thermally-efficient homes on the market, not to mention their obvious eco-friendly aspect. Barbara Jones believes that even without planting any extra crop for straw, there is already enough stock to build 250,000 homes a year if necessary.

Building courses on strawbale construction, from introductory to advanced, are run by Amazonails for professionals and self-builders.

Contact: amazonails, Hope Mill,
Crescent Street, Todmorden, OL14 5HA
Tel: 0845 458 2173
Website: www.amazonails.org.uk

Barbara Jones on a strawbale build. Photo: © amozonails

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