Land west of Manchester Road in Knutsford, Crown Estate, p planning

Outline planning permission was granted in May 2020 for the project by Cheshire East Council. Credit: via planning documents

Crown Estate seeks SME partners for net zero homes pilot

The monarch-owned property management company wants to trial building up to 60 homes in Cheshire East that have less than 300kg of embodied carbon per square metre.

The site in question is 26 acres of greenfield located west of Manchester Road, just north of Knutsford.

Barton Willmore secured outline planning permission for the project on behalf of the Crown Estate in 2020 from Cheshire East Council. The site is set for the building of the aforementioned homes, of which 30% will be affordable, as well as a link road and a roundabout. The outline permission also includes a provision for a business park, but this aspect of the application is not part of the Crown Estate’s net zero pilot.

The Crown Estate is looking to find partners to trial different models of project delivery to see if they can meet the low embodied carbon goal.

“Tackling housing supply and climate change are critical issues facing the UK,” said Rob Chesworth, head of regional residential at the Crown Estate.

“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,” he continued

“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.”

Chesworth also described the ideal partner for the project.

“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,” he said.

Savills is managing the partner selection process for the Crown Estate. Those who wish to share their interest should email

The Cheshire project is one of two trials proposed by the Crown Estate. The other is in Bedford and comprises 50 homes.

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