Bromford Group’s Cross Street South – Winner of a Built In Quality award 2009


  • Low carbon development category in the Homes & Communities Academy Awards 2009
  • Built-in quality award in Birmingham City Council’s Celebrating Construction 2009
  • Innovation category in the Cleaner Safer Greener Network Awards 2009
  • Building for Life Award 2009
  • Inside Housing’s award for a sustainable larger social housing project 2008


Cross Street South, Blakenhall, Wolverhampton


Bromford Group, a leading provider of affordable housing in Central England with 26,000 houses and flats ranging from Stoke in the north to Cirencester in the south. The organisation, which now employs more than 1,100 colleagues, also delivers care and support services to more than 4,000 vulnerable people.


Cross Street South’s award-winning design emerged when Wolverhampton City Council asked a number of housing associations to submit plans for a highly sustainable and innovative housing scheme as part of a rolling regeneration process in Blakenhall.

Bromford put together the successful bid with architects Cole Thompson Anders and Integer, a research network producing intelligent and green building projects.

The land was derelict when given by the council and then developed in a partnership approach using £2.2m grant from the former Housing Corporation (now the HCA) and £1.4m raised by Bromford.

Future residents were actively involved in the design process, and the building itself – a complex of 30 eco-friendly homes that use half as much energy as a standard house – has transformed the area and lives of the people that live there.

“A site that was once viewed as a ‘scar on the landscape of Blakenhall’ is now a strong community centred around an environmentally-friendly ethos,” said a Bromford spokesman.

“Everyone who signed up to live here had a say in how it took shape – from the communal gardens to the colour scheme – and to learn about the green thinking and technologies.

“These are truly sustainable homes that manage to combine cutting-edge design with first-rate eco credentials; a powerful message with a new approach to community living.

“Most importantly perhaps, these are homes that people really want to live in – and what could be better than that?”

The challenges

  • To redefine some of the traditional streetscape which had been lost as a result of demolition and 1960s development.
  • Actively involve residents from an early stage and to support them in adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
  • Achieve EcoHomes Excellent standard, minimising primary energy use and making best use of modern sustainable technology to maximise efficient use of energy, water and other resources.
  • To make this low energy, low carbon development “feel” green with turf roofs, plenty of planting and allotments.

The solutions

  • Terraced configuration.
  • Most habitable rooms are south facing.
  • All rooms including bathrooms and hallways have natural daylight and ventilation.
  • High level of insulation, both in the walls and the roof, which is made of sedum or grass.
  • South and west facing windows are fitted with brise-soleil, or sun breaker, shading.
  • All timber comes from sustainably managed forests.
  • Closed panel, pre-insulated timber frames.
  • Recycled newspaper used for insulation.
  • Kitchens manufactured from recycled chipboard.
  • Flooring made of marmoleum, a natural biodegradable product.
  • Recyclable aluminium fascias, soffits, gutters and rainwater pipes.
  • Grass roofs provide good insulation and replace atmospheric CO2 with O2.
  • All internal and external lighting is low energy. Communal lighting only operates when required.
  • All toilets are ultra low dual flush.
  • Water recycling.
  • Underfloor heating throughout.
  • Sun pipes.
  • Sprinkler taps.
  • Recycling facilities.
  • Biomass district heating system.
  • Passive ventilation system.
  • Cycle storage in two locations.
  • Composting bin.
  • Specific recycling containers in line with Wolverhampton City Council’s kerbside recycling scheme and recycling bin stores.
  • Worked with local partners to provide apprenticeships and jobs for local people.
  • Used local suppliers.

The results

  • Cross Street Homes use 50% less energy than standard homes.
  • Terraced configuration minimised the amount of heat lost through the exterior walls.
  • Natural daylight and ventilation minimises the use of electric lighting and ventilation.
  • South-facing rooms mean that the sun helps to warm the rooms in the winter.
  • Less energy required for heating due to insulation, roughly 2KW instead of 8KW for a traditionally constructed flat.
  • Brise soleil, or sun breaker, shading avoids heat build-up in the summer and allows low angle winter sun to penetrate.
  • The woodchip boiler has very low CO2 emissions and provides heating and hot water to the whole development. Supplies can be replenished easily and the amount of wood going to landfill is reduced.
  • Low energy lighting also contributes to the energy efficiency.
  • Sedum roof also absorbs rainwater, minimising run-off and reducing the likelihood of flooding by taking the pressure off public drainage systems during bad weather.
  • Use of a closed panel, pre-insulated timber frame significantly reduced the amount of waste timber and insulation material. The use of masonry was also minimised, eliminating the waste associated with the trades.
  • Composting bin for garden and non-cooked kitchen waste produces compost which can then be used on the allotment and landscape.
  • Cross Street South scored a record 18 ½ out of 20 in the national Building for Life awards 2009.  The following day, housing minister John Healey visited the scheme and declared that it sets the standard for what the nation should be building in the future.

Learning points

By designing the housing scheme with sustainability in mind large cost, energy and waste savings can be made for both the property developers and the residents.

Early identification of residents for the scheme to allow them to be actively involved in the design process and learn about the ethos and technologies.

Working with local people and suppliers reduces CO2 emissions through reducing transportation as well as having a positive effect on the local community and economy.

SWM comment

This housing scheme is a benchmark for affordable and environmental homes thanks to its design solutions.


For more information please go to the Bromford Group website or email