The Crown Estate launches demonstration projects to trial net zero carbon homes

net zero carbon homes

The Crown Estate is launching two pilot housing projects to test different approaches to building net zero homes.


The projects have been identified to explore the opportunities and challenges of delivering industry-leading net zero housing developments. Both will draw on best practice in sustainable design and construction and encourage innovation to minimise operational and embodied carbon.

The two projects are:

  • A site at Wootton in Bedford comprising of 15 acres of land with a Neighbourhood Plan allocation for around 50 homes, 30% of which will be affordable.
  • A site in Knutsford in Cheshire with outline consent for up to 60 homes, 30% affordable homes, as well as associated road infrastructure (a link road and roundabout).

The aim is to explore how new homes can be delivered using less than 300kg/m2 of embodied carbon alongside meeting ambitious energy efficiency targets. The Crown Estate is seeking partners for the pilot projects and will look to test different models for project delivery, including through incentives for achieving environmental and financial outcomes.

Partners will be expected to follow market-leading guidance and embrace circular economy and regenerative principles in their proposals. At Knutsford, there is an additional challenge of delivering low-carbon road infrastructure.

The Crown Estate will look to apply lessons learned from these demonstration projects to their larger scale projects – and information will be made publicly available to inform best practice within the wider industry.

Rob Chesworth, Head of Regional Residential at The Crown Estate, said: “Tackling housing supply and climate change are critical issues facing the UK. At The Crown Estate, we want to see how best we can be part of the solution by looking at the way we address these challenges through our Regional portfolio. By being bold and pushing existing industry standards through these pilot projects and sharing our learning, we hope to demonstrate that high quality, net zero carbon homes are deliverable at scale and can form the cornerstone of vibrant, sustainable communities.

“We want to work with aligned SMEs and entrepreneurs who are putting innovation and sustainability at the forefront of housebuilding and community-focused development to raise industry standards and galvanise momentum to meet the sector’s decarbonisation challenge.”

The projects represent an evolution in The Crown Estate’s regional strategy, as it seeks to leverage its national land and property portfolio to support regional economic growth, contribute towards housing supply and enhance its returns to the Treasury. Over the next decade, it will look to invest significantly in regeneration, delivering new, mixed-tenure residential communities and world-class locations for businesses to prosper.