Howgate Close: Is this a third way?

A rhetorical question asked by Professor Ian Rotherham when recently introduced to ‘Howgate Close’ by Dr Chris Parsons.

‘Howgate Close’ offers many solutions, not least attending to recent issues raised by the European Environment Agency.

“Agriculture has high impacts on the environment and the climate… can play a key role in maintaining and managing Europe’s biodiversity. They are also a critical component of the rural economy….. impacts on the environment and its socio-economic importance for many communities.”

‘Howgate Close’ is model offered to provide;

  • generational investment for farm
  • local housing for local people
  • biodiversity by re-wilding
  • community access to woodland pasture meadows

It is accurate to describe the 10acre development site of ‘Howgate Close’ as having ‘no net biodiversity loss’ instead, a ‘net biodiversity gain’

A second-generation Eakring farmer, Dr Parsons inspiration for the project was in part, tackling local  community concerns to changes in their immediate surroundings e.g.

  • Living in close proximity to intensive industrialised farming i.e. agrochemicals affects on health and wildlife
  • Restricted access to open-countryside with increased intensive land use
  • Erosion of biodiversity and wildlife. 
  • An absence of wildlife sites close to communities

Under-construction on part of the site are nine homes with exceptionally low lifetime embedded carbon, dwellings whose functional life will be measured in centuries rather than decades.

The ‘Howgate Close’ business model facilitates funding in-perpetuity for; property upkeep, maintenance of woodland pasture meadow while securing renewable energy for generations, into the emerging post-hydrocarbon era.

Integral to the model is Dr Parsons self-imposed Section 106 Agreement with the Newark & Sherwood District Council to retain properties in rent for a minimum of 15 years and exclusively for local people. If ever sold, the dwellings can only be sold for 80% of market value in-perpetuity.

Professor Ian Rotherham described Dr Parsons stewardship of Eakring’s landscape, as;

“A vote of faith in the future”

Is then, ‘Howgate Close’ a third way?

Is this a way of creating a ‘wood-pasture meadow’ for every village in England?

Indeed, is it a replicable model for generational farmers?

‘Howgate Close’, rural housing by numbers

Literally describing ‘Howgate Close’ by numbers gets us closer to a formulaic solution for replicable rural housing.

Dr Chris Parsons project, Howgate Close, will deliver 9 rented homes with accommodation for up to 23 local people. His development takes 10acres out of agriculture to deliver 9 single-storey privately rented dwellings with access to 8acres of managed wildlife area. His aim is to provide exceptional energy efficient homes (SAP Rating 142A) with low running costs for some of the local 415 population (Census 2011) Many of whom who have been priced out of local home-ownership with average Eakring house prices at £405,129 an increase of 12.35% since June 2020.

As a second-generation farmer of 1,500acres, whose family have been farming in Eakring, Notts, since 1939, Dr Parsons is looking to create a commercially viable rural housing template for other UK farmers to adopt.

One of the project’s legacies, will be its contribution to generational settlement growth, increasing Eakrings’ circa 200 households by 4.5% with a potential concomitant 5.5% population increase. This growth is facilitated by an additional 14 bedrooms from 5no. 2bedroom and 4no.1bedroom dwellings with a total floor area of 474m2.

Another lasting contribution for the households, is an accelerated transition to a post-hydrocarbon era. Collectively, the 9 homes will generate annually around 50,000kWhrs of renewable electricity from 138 roof mounted photovoltaic (PV)panels. It’s estimated, each home will generate 50% more energy than they consume due in part to their low rates of heat loss (Building U-Value 0.16W/m2K) These super-insulated fabrics are achieved with 968sheets (246 cubic metres) of Ravago’s ‘Ravatherm’ extruded polystyrene insulation boards (Lambda value 0.027W/mK) enveloping the entire building.

Third party verification of the project’s exceptional energy efficiency and carbon mitigation standards, is provided by Elmhurst’s SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) calculation which have produced Ratings of 131A and 142A. Once registered, these EPC’s can accurately be described as ‘one in a million’.

Other Useful Information:

Planning Authority Newark & Sherwood District Council:

Builder: Eagle Building Specialists: 

Photovoltaics: Cambridge Solar:

Project Manager: Ian Walton 

Design SAP Calculation: Elmhurst Energy Service:

Structural Defects Warranty: ICW

Turton Building Control:


Hardwick Windows:

Electric underfloor heating Gaia:

Technical Consultant Dr Jeremy Harrall

‘Howgate Close’, a replicable rural housing solution

‘Howgate Close’ brokers a replicable model that can provide both rural housing and wood pastures for every village in the country.

Located at the western gateway to the Nottinghamshire village of Eakring, the site’s 10acres have been taken out of agriculture production to provide nine homes within a managed wildlife area.

Eakring farmer and retired GP, Dr Chris Parsons, describes his project, Howgate Close as an opportunity to address some of society’s most pressing issues: rural housing shortage, climate change, soil restoration, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, water management and purification and community cohesiveness.

Howgate Close’s main objective is to provide local people who’ve been priced out of home-ownership, with high quality rented homes, offering low running costs, low maintenance and access to the open countryside. Also underway are plans to benefit the wider community with permissive access rights to part of the wood pasture.

Dr Parsons engaged the local ‘Hockerton Housing Project’ (HHP) to design ‘Howgate Close’ using the design principles applied at HHP by its Architects, Professor’s Brenda and Robert Vale.

Those design solutions were first published in the Vale’s 1975 book, ‘The Autonomous House’ and implemented at their former Southwell home, ‘The New Autonomous House’  Over 40 years later, the Vale’s design principles have been applied to Eakring’s latest additional nine dwellings, less than 7miles from their former home. On July 27th 1994 their Southwell home became the UK’s first dwelling to export photovoltaic (PV) generated renewable energy to the National Grid.

At Eakring,138 roof mounted photovoltaic (PV) panels are to be installed, providing a 61kWpeak array with the potential to generate annually 50,000kWhrs of electricity, an average of 5,512Kwhrs per household/year. It’s estimated the 1bed units average annual energy consumption to be in the region of 3,500kWhrs/year and the 2bed circa 4,500kWhrs/year.

Eakring’s nine single-storey homes have achieved exceptional Design SAP Ratings of 131A and 142A. The SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) calculation is the UK Government’s primary methodology for measuring energy efficiency and carbon emissions in dwellings. Once completed (May 2022) these dwellings will be rated in the top 0.01% of the 14million registered EPC’s (Energy Performance Certificates) in the UK.


Other Useful Information

Howgate Close was granted planning consent in July 2018 by Newark & Sherwood District Council

Buildings constructed by Eagle Building Specialists 

PV (photovoltaic) panels are to be supplied, installed and commissioned by Cambridge Solar

Howgate Close is Project Managed Ian Walton

Design SAP Calculation undertaken by Elmhurst Energy Service

A 10year Structural Defects Warranty is being provided by ICW

Turton Building Control

Triple glazed softwood windows are to be supplied and installed by Hardwick Windows

‘Back-up’ electric underfloor heating is being supplied and installed by Gaia

Technical Consultancy provided by Dr Jeremy Harrall

General building materials supplied by Turnbulls

Structural design by Sidebottom Richardson Cheung