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What is it like to live in the Norwich homes named the UK's best building?

PUBLISHED: 06:52 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:23 09 October 2019

Charlotte McCormack with twins Poppy and Olivia, who live in the Goldsmith Street development. Pic: Archant

Charlotte McCormack with twins Poppy and Olivia, who live in the Goldsmith Street development. Pic: Archant

Archant

It is the quiet Norwich street which has just scooped the Stirling Prize - one of the most prestigious national awards for architecture.

Goldsmith Street. Pic: ArchantGoldsmith Street. Pic: Archant

In July, Caroline Culot went to meet the people who live in the council houses in Goldsmith Street, which on Tuesday was named the best new building in the UK.

These houses look like nothing else in the UK - and the people living in the neat row of new builds in Norwich's Goldsmith Street love their new homes.

Experts believe this development could prove to be the blueprint for the social housing of the future.

The city council, builders and architects worked in unison to create 105 homes in Goldsmith Street inspired by the Victorian terraces of the nearby Golden Triangle but with the eco benefits of a futuristic living space.

Goldsmith Street in Norwich, which is the bookmakers' favourite to win the RIBA Stirling Prize. Pic: ArchantGoldsmith Street in Norwich, which is the bookmakers' favourite to win the RIBA Stirling Prize. Pic: Archant

But what is it actually like to live there?

Once the bulldozers left, a tight-knit community grew on this leafy street where gardens are full of flowers and amenity spaces have neat grass and plants - Goldsmith Street has become a busy little neighbourhood.

But it has a controversial past. In 2008 it emerged council staff had moved into the old houses when people were re-homed contrary to policy. It led to the head of neighbourhood and strategy being fired.

But for the people now living in the street that scandal is just a distant memory.

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Charlotte McCormack - a part-time hairdresser and mum of two-year-old twins Poppy and Olivia - moved with partner Callum Jones five months ago into one of the 40 two-bedroom houses. Their new home boasts parking, fibre-optic broadband and a neat, lawned garden.

Previously they lived a few streets away in Dolphin Grove.

"This one is so much better because it's new, it's very child friendly on this street and very quiet and I like the fact there are things for the children - a little slide and wooden play things," she said.

A few doors down, Joe Harrington, a self-employed filmmaker and his girlfriend Alexandra Jenkins, a beautician, are also enjoying their new home.

Inside their two-bedroom home is a large fitted kitchen which goes into a living room opening on to a small, lawned garden at the rear. Upstairs are two good sized bedrooms and enough landing for a work area with the feeling of space magnified by high ceilings.

These new-build homes were required to be super energy efficient. Developers copied the model of a 'passivhaus' which is cheaper to run conserving energy for heating and cooling. But it does mean there are no draughty letter boxes on the front doors.

The timber framed homes have insulation pumped into a airtight membrane, to prevent heat loss, with triple-glazed windows. They are also kitted out with a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system - essentially a duct which comes into the building, with a fan blowing fresh air in and another duct with a fan blowing stale air out.

And now the success of Goldsmith Street has been sealed. The project has been shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize for the UK's best new build.

The homes, owned and managed by the city council, were built by RG Carter and designed by architects Mikhail Riches and Cathy Hawley.

They have previously scooped awards from RIBA East and a RIBA sustainability accolade.

It follows the successful Rayne Park development in Bowthorpe which was built by a regeneration company owned by the city council to provide a mixture of private and social housing.

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