Plans Submitted for ‘World First’ Zero Carbon Student Village in Falmouth

Cornish sustainable property developer Verto has submitted a reserved matters planning application for a ‘world first’ Zero Carbon Student Village at Penvose, Falmouth. The student village was approved by Cornwall Council’s planning committee in September 2018 and has since been upgraded to a zerocarbon proposal which is now before the local planning committees to finalise the detail

Penvose Zero Carbon Student Village, which will be the first of its kind, will house up to 1,858 students and provide a host of retail and leisure facilities for students and the local community. This is set to include food outlets, business start-up units, convenience shops, GP surgery, day nursery, gym/yoga studios, and hotel. In addition, there will be new sports facilities including tennis and squash courts, plus an all-weather pitch. 

These facilities, along with the high-quality living conditions will also look to address and improve the rising issue of poor mental health among students. Andy West, Head of Land and Planning at Verto, comments on the benefits he believes the new development could bring to its residents, “During the pandemic we have seen reports of an increasing number of students feeling isolated, away from home and friends, often living in below par accommodation. We believe that by creating a village environment with first class accommodation and facilities, we can help foster a new student community and alleviate some of these issues.”

Additionally, according to the developer, the site will not only offer high-quality zero carbon student accommodation but will also alleviate strains placed on the local community, including freeing-up of much valued car parking space, as well as housing stock in the towns of Falmouth and Penryn. 

West believes the development will help the local area in a number of ways, he comments, “Student numbers in Falmouth are set to soar over the coming years and this puts huge pressure on housing in Falmouth and Penryn. The development will host a dedicated student hub for living, studying and socialising, that is both on the edge of the town and near the campus. It will provide purpose-built accommodation to meet the needs of the growing student population, many currently living in HMOs across the town. We believe it will also free up much needed housing for local residents. Not only that, but we estimate, based on the size and scope of the property, that the completed zero carbon development would also create circa 400 jobs in the local area.”

The team at Verto has been building Zero Carbon Smart Homes for the residential market for over a decade and is currently delivering the clubhouse facilities at Falmouth Golf Club. Verto has received national and international acclaim for its Zero Carbon homes through a number of business and industry awards. The developer is now bringing this experience to the Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) market.

West continues, “The buildings at this development will be entirely zero carbon in their operation. At the heart of the scheme is the principle that energy is created sustainably and consumed efficiently. As part of achieving this, the buildings will have a multitude of sustainable materials and features, including: super-insulation, PV (solar) panels, air-source or ground-source heat pumps, heat recovery ventilation, and a number of buildings will have will have green living roofs. Any carbon emitted during the construction phase will be reduced as far as possible and the balance offset through a series of measures. For example, we will be planting over 2,000 trees across the site – more than one tree per student bedspace, that will serve to absorb 44.5 tonnes of CO2 per year. We will also be carrying out exciting environmental and rewilding projects across Cornwall. And we will be using cutting edge smart technology to control a number of the building systems such as heating, electricity usage and mechanical ventilation, supporting our zero carbon promise.”

New and improved pedestrian/cycle links to the nearby Falmouth University campus, and to the wider highway network beyond are also part of the plans. The scheme will not only be zero carbon in its design and construction, but will benefit from sustainable transport links, with proposals for electric cars and bikes to be available to hire from the ‘Park and Change’ area on site. It is hoped that these sustainable transport developments coupled with increased parking provision, will alleviate pressure from Falmouth during the summer months when tourist numbers place pressure on the area.  

West concludes, “From the outset, our aim for this scheme was for a PBSA development, and we purchased the site with existing outline planning permission to do so. From an early stage we have been working with stakeholders including Cornwall Council to ensure we are meeting the needs of the community. We are incredibly excited about this project and moving into this market. As a business, we have always built a high-quality product, and we are confident of delivering this at Penvose. We want to change the public perception that student accommodation is somehow second rate. This will become a site that serves the community, creates jobs, alleviates existing burdens on surrounding towns, all while being zero carbon. We have full confidence in delivering a truly cutting edge and world leading development at Penvose.”