Doctor’s grand design project will be on TV

THE story behind another eco-friendly home in Suffolk will be featured on Grand Designs in two weeks’ time.

Jonathan Belsey’s bid to build a home with as low a carbon footprint as possible at a site in Boxford, near Sudbury, will appear on the Channel 4 show on October 13 at 9pm.

Like many of the stories followed by presenter Kevin McCloud, this one had its challenges, and it ended up significantly over-budget with a final cost of about �340,000.

But Dr Belsey, a doctor who runs a medical marketing consultancy company in Little Cornard, said he would do it all again.

The 50-year-old, who lives with partner Lindsey Nicholas and four children between them, said: “It certainly had its stressful moments and there were occasions in the build when I said to Lindsey ‘I need a week off, you run things’.

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“Overall it wasn’t without its stresses, but it wasn’t that bad, and if someone said to me ‘I’m thinking of doing it, should I?’ I would say ‘go for it. It’s a great experience’.”

The house, called The Arc because of its curved shape, is recognisable from the main road between Sudbury and Ipswich because of its wind turbine.

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But the turbine – which is an experimental model – is currently not working and the house is running off mains electricity.

While not hampering the modern lifestyle, Dr Belsey said it was hampering what the house was designed to do, which is to be as self-efficient in energy as possible.

“It’s actually quite easy to build an eco-house. You put up a mud hut and don’t have any electricity or water or anything else, but if you want to live a normal, sensible modern life then you cannot do it that way,” he said.

The house, which the family have now been living in for just over a year, has solar hot water panels and is built of concrete blocks – normally manufactured for the outside of office blocks – which are designed to keep a steady temperature in the home.

He admitted that some local residents had not been keen on the wind turbine, but generally people had been friendly and taken an interest in the build.

As well as opening their doors to the Grand Designs team, the family held an open day in May and have also shown smaller groups around.

Dr Belsey, who has been a Grand Designs fan from the start, said they now just wanted the house to be their home. “On a sunny morning you come in here and it’s full of light and you think ‘what a great place to live’.”

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