A PROJECT to build what could become the first cluster of ultra-low energy houses in the East Midlands has been earmarked for a patch of unused land in Clifton.
Ashbourne architect Darren Archer has penned five properties which would each incorporate enough insulation to ensure the smallest homes on the plot could be paying energy bills of less than £45 per year.
Mr Archer has designed the houses around the standards required for a "Passivhaus" – a German term referring to a building insulated and designed to minimise the need for heating.
There are around 300 houses in the UK which make the grade, and none have been built in the East Midlands.
Mr Archer hopes the hi-tech designs of the properties will sway planners into giving the development, off Chapel Lane, the thumbs-up when it goes before Derbyshire Dales District Council in the coming weeks.
He said: "What we are we trying to achieve with this project, personally I think it's two things – first to build good-quality homes that will last and won't be a burden on the owners the minute they walk in the door and turn the heating on.
"Secondly, is just to prove that it can be done on a budget similar to that which a traditional developer would have for building a house of this size and type.
"So we can then apply pressure on developers to do it themselves."
Mr Archer estimated that it could cost a developer as little as £3,000 extra to build a small three-bedroom property to Passivhaus standard.
He hoped that, if given planning permission, the development in Clifton would serve as a model to demonstrate what could be achieved, so other builders could explore the concept.
As part of the proposal at Chapel Lane, two of the five properties, both three-bedrooom semi-detached houses, are intended to be handed over to the parish as part of a shared ownership scheme.
Early talks are under way between the landowner and developer Joanne Harrison, who lives next door to the plot of land, and Clifton Parish Council.
The hope is that two houses can be set aside for local people who would be able to rent the homes for less than the market value through a village-run community housing scheme.
The remaining three properties would be larger four-bedroom homes.