Oak Meadow

Iconic, award-winning, affordable, low-energy homes in Devon

"...just thought you would be pleased to know (as we are) that we have not used our central heating system all winter - thanks for such a great job on the house"

occupant feedback - oak meadow - winter 2011/12

"...as the seasons change, watching the light in the house move around and change is wonderful. Thanks for such a wonderful home..."

occupant feedback - oak meadow

Oak Meadow
Oak Meadow

For Devon & Cornwall Housing Association; £3.5m contract value; completed 2004


Since its completion in 2004 Oak Meadow has been used as a benchmark for sustainable design at a national and international level.


Oak Meadow is a development of 35 affordable, low environmental impact dwellings in the rural setting of South Molton, Devon. The project was designed to high environmental, health and design standards.


The development has received numerous national and local awards both for its environmental credentials and its creation of uplifting places for people to live. The development is featured in the RIBA book entitled ‘Sustainable Architecture’.


Considerable tenacity was required to ensure that the sustainable ethos was maintained. Extensive tenant consultation, presentations and visits were made throughout the project. The result has been a scheme that is regarded as delightful to live in by the tenants who have comfortable, healthy homes and very low fuel bills.


Site layout: Dwellings are oriented towards the south and southwest maximising passive solar gains for both buildings and gardens and arranged in terraces to reduce surface heat loss.


Construction: Timber ‘Twin Frame’® System developed by Gale & Snowden Architects to enable super-insulated air tight walls and roof panels which eliminate thermal bridging and use readily available low embodied energy, local materials. Thermal mass was introduced internally to stabilise internal temperature fluctuations and help reduce summertime overheating.


Low-energy design including:


  • Super insulation - U-values of construction: floor 0.14W/m2K (200mm EPS insulation), walls 0.13W/m2K (300mm cellulose insulation), roof 0.13W/m2K (350mm cellulose insulation), windows and doors 1.00W/m2K (triple glazed, double low-e, argon filled and insulated glazing spacer bars)
  • Air tightness: fan pressurisation test to 3 air changes at 50Pa
  • Natural daylight design for all habitable rooms
  • Natural ventilation with pre-heating from solar spaces
  • Inclusion of thermal mass to provide stable internal temperature fluctuations and help to reduce summertime overheating
  • Cool larders to reduce fridge use
  • Low energy lighting throughout


These energy efficiency measures have resulted in the homes being very comfortable to live in with little variation in internal temperature and very low fuel bills ensuring that all tenants can achieve affordable warmth.


Low environmental impact, natural materials used throughout and avoidance of PVC.


Healthy building design: Use of non-VOC materials, avoidance of dust mite habitats, radial wiring to avoid low-level EMFs in bedrooms, thermal comfort and daylight design.


Water efficiency: Low water use appliances, pressure reduction gauges, rain water collection system to WCs.


External landscaping: Wildlife corridor and wind shelter belt designed into the site layout to reduce wind chill onto buildings and gardens, south-facing, productive (food) gardens with access direct from living rooms, minimisation of hard surfaces, SUDS design with attenuation meadow and porous surfaces, low maintenance design.


Accessibility for people with disabilities: The housing development includes accommodation for people with disabilities.