How EggHomes cracked high speed broadband and eco-efficiency in the Lake District

Gordon Miller
A CGI of a completed EggHome

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth. Born and bred in the Lake District, her illustrated tales of the adventures of Peter Rabbit and his friends have become quintessential children’s bedtime stories of the English countryside.

The founding of the protected 885sq mile Lake District National Park in 1951 has ensured the land remains largely the one she knew and loved. Within the Park, during 2012-13 permission was granted for only 172 new dwellings – none of them designated second or holiday homes.

Immediately outside the boundaries, within Cumbria, there are fewer restrictions, but housebuilders often have to jump over hurdles to get projects off the ground. EggHomes' managing partners Ashley Reese, Chris Nelson and Matthew Eves spent more than 18 months submitting planning applications to South Lakeland District Council before they got the green light to build several miles outside the Park, close to Hincaster, near Kendal.

Family relocations

Their perseverance has resulted in Viver Green, a new 12-acre community of 22 architect-designed, four and five bedroom highly-sustainable and low-energy use homes. The first phase of six homes sold within a week of going on the market earlier this year. They will be completed by June when the first residents – 5 of whom are families relocating from places like Bath and Oxford – will be able to move in.

Reese is confident the remaining homes will sell just as quickly, with a choice of six different designs, feature balconies and landscaped front and rear gardens priced from £445,950. "We're receiving a steady stream of enquiries," he says. "Most buyers to date intend to relocate here, but some are buying as a second home to use at weekends and extended holidays."

EggHomes wants to encourage a balanced residential community to develop at Viver Green. One measure to achieve the equilibrium is to restrict the number of homes that may be purchased as second homes by charging them a service charge premium. Those not to residing permanently will pay £1,200 service per year, while owners who live in their homes permanently will pay £600. None are permitted to be bought and rented as short-term lets.

The fastest rural network in the world

However, all homes are designed with sustainability in mind – they’re air-tight and able to generate hot water and heating from solar thermal panels and air source heat pumps. This has earned the development an A-rated SAP score and low energy bills, calculated at 71p per day for electricity. That's 75 per cent less than the average house in the UK.

The extra investment has really paid off. Kitchen work surfaces charge mobile phones, electric car chargers are standard and wifi connectivity is second to none. "We have installed the UK's fastest broadband and the fasted rural network in the world. It performs at 1,000 megabits per second," says Reece.

"The average home's system has an upload speed of 2mbps. It's a great talking point, but it also means the residents can genuinely work efficiently from home and are superbly connected to the outside world. When they do need to travel, we're only 10 minutes from both Kendal and Oxenholme train stations for a direct rail connection to London in 2 hours 30 minutes."

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