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First look at seven futuristic £2.5m homes being built ‘like nothing Norfolk has seen before’

PUBLISHED: 16:00 25 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:51 26 July 2020

Octagon Park, Little Plumstead where homes for the future are being built. Pic: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Octagon Park, Little Plumstead where homes for the future are being built. Pic: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Archant

A Norfolk landowner is building the first of seven monster passivhaus homes for the future after six years of planning.

Realising a dream: the team at Octagon Park, Little Plumstead. Pic : BRITTANY WOODMANRealising a dream: the team at Octagon Park, Little Plumstead. Pic : BRITTANY WOODMAN

Joe Cozens Wiley started a project to build energy-saving homes to an ultra modern design six years ago in Church Field, Little Plumstead, near Norwich.

After various planning wrangles, he’s finally actually building the first show house in Octagon Park – each for sale for £2.5m. And although the pricetag might seem a hard sell in times of coronavirus, Mr Cozens Wiley has already sold one off plan to a buyer who’s never even visited the site.

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The houses, encompassing period Palladian features but created by Norwich-based Hudson Architects on a modern scale and design with huge portico entrances, come with five bedrooms, half an acre of garden and triple garages.

An artist's impression of how the passivhaus will look when finished. Pic: Humberts/Hudson ArchitectsAn artist's impression of how the passivhaus will look when finished. Pic: Humberts/Hudson Architects

But it’s no holds barred on what you have inside if you’ve got the money to pay for it.

For example, one interested buyer wants to be able to park his Ferrari inside the house – although garaging has been built to a grand scale for those who need to look after their expensive cars and motorbikes.

Inside, each house is around 7,000 sqft, with a downstairs that can be easily converted into an apartment, with wheelchair-friendly wet rooms and no steps apart from the main staircase.

Like many features, this was on Mr Cozens Wiley’s checklist because he’d watched his own parents downsize to a tiny snug in their own home.

Is this the house for the future? Octagon Park sees the first passivhaus to go up. Pictures : BRITTANY WOODMANIs this the house for the future? Octagon Park sees the first passivhaus to go up. Pictures : BRITTANY WOODMAN

“The house ages with you and can accommodate your changing needs meaning downsizing when you’re older isn’t necessary. These are houses for life, you never have to move out,” he said.

To get planning, the houses had to be energy efficient and are passivhaus plus, meaning they are able to maintain a constant, filtered air temperature throughout; cool in the summer, warm in the winter and no draughty points near windows and doors.

“These are houses with no compromises,” said Mr Cozens Wiley. “There is nothing you won’t love about them. I am passionate about them, I’ve lived the idea for six years.

“These houses are sympathetic to the countryside and the environment, they don’t take any energy.

The 51 solar panels on one roof. Pictures : BRITTANY WOODMANThe 51 solar panels on one roof. Pictures : BRITTANY WOODMAN

“If you look at listed buildings, say a rectory, that’s retaining history but we are creating history. I want someone in the future to go past these houses and say; ‘How do I buy one?’

“They cater for how we want to live our lives; more space, more fresh air, space to work from home and with acres of parkland opposite.“

The entire house works using smart technology meaning it can do everything you need it to from switching on the lights to warming rooms up, putting the oven on, and even the under floor heating is ‘intelligent’ and ‘learns’ from your habits on where your furniture is and where the sun comes in so it warms the floor only where you need it to.

A house can be built with kitchens and bathrooms of the buyers’ choice however the show-home is being filled with the very best interiors; from a £150,000 kitchen to £46,000 worth of lighting, a coffee and wine station and 49 tonnes of tiles. Standard in every house is around seven km of cabling and 51 solar panels on the roof which generate 21.8 kilowatts of power. This compares to around one-four kilowatts for a house with a standard solar panel system.

Octagon Park, Little Plumstead, where the first of the homes is being built. Pictures : BRITTANY WOODMANOctagon Park, Little Plumstead, where the first of the homes is being built. Pictures : BRITTANY WOODMAN

You’ll be able to charge your house using your electric car and vice versa from its double charging points.

Being energy efficient, with no need for radiators, your bills are minimal and yet each house is capable of storing a ton of hot water, meaning everyone in the household can have a shower each at the same time and the water will never run cold.

The attention to detail is incredible; showers are turned on from controls away from the cubicle because Mr Cozens Wiley hates getting his arm wet when you turn it on usually.

Nearly half the building is glass with five en suite bedrooms, a media/cinema room and two balconies from the master and second bedroom which look out over the parkland, with field views from the rear.

In the grand entrance hall. Pictures : BRITTANY WOODMANIn the grand entrance hall. Pictures : BRITTANY WOODMAN

They are family friendly, with windows in the kitchen deliberately positioned so you can see over towards the park – so parents can see their children are safe.

The houses, for sale with Humberts, are created from being delivered in a flat pack, timber frame form and then assembled using specialist passivhaus local tradespeople.

From landowner to developer

Joe Cozens Wiley is the fifth generation in his family of landowners and farmers who started out in 1803.

Joe Cozens Wiley on the roof of the house being built at Octagon Park. Pic: ArchantJoe Cozens Wiley on the roof of the house being built at Octagon Park. Pic: Archant

But he decided to diversify, creating commercial spaces at Octagon Park where a striking eight-sided historic barn sits in parkland.

Mr Cozens Wiley and his partner, interior designer Katie Montgomery have been restoring the barn, built around the late 1600s to the early 1700s originally as a non-conformist Methodist meeting chapel.

It then was a farmer’s barn and used as a grain store and for stables for the horses and as his great grandmother records in her diary of 1853, harvest parties.

Records state 183 men and their families would gather with 56 gallons of ale in a barrel, giant steak and kidney pies for lots of singing and dancing.

An artist's impression of how the passivhaus will look inside. Pic: Humberts/Hudson ArchitectsAn artist's impression of how the passivhaus will look inside. Pic: Humberts/Hudson Architects

Mr Cozens Wiley and his partner have repaired its roof, floors, walls and doors and it now operates as a successful wedding venue.

Six years ago he began the project to build on land opposite the park – and the passivhaus scheme began.


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