Oak Cottage is a small barn conversion, one of fourteen in the Threshold Cohousing
Centre at Cole Street Farm, with double glazing and thick insulated walls. The
Centre has a wood pellet boiler providing a district heating system circulating hot
water to the houses and a biodigester to handle the sewerage.
The cottage has south-west facing solar panels set up as a mains feed-in system.
They provide electricity year round during the day except on the darkest winter days
when the mains electricity takes over. The hot water is heated by the solar panels
with a top up as necessary from either the district heating system or from an
Heating in winter is mostly provided by Far Infrared Panels that are powered from
the solar panels, with occasional use of the mains. The FIR panels look rather like
whiteboards and are hung on the walls or freestanding to provide direct heat where
needed. The district heating system which runs through the central heating radiators
in the cottage is used occasionally as needed on the very coldest days.
There are companion planting garden beds to the back and front of the cottage
growing a mix of vegetables, annual and perennial flowering plants and small fruit
trees. The beds are watered from water butts which capture rain water diverted from
At the rear there is a combination green house and tool shed made from recycled
timber and polythene sheeting. Seedlings are started in the shed in the Spring
before planting out when the weather is suitable. There are beds on top of the
gabions which were put in place to stop erosion from the stream that runs past the
back of the cottage. These have significantly increased the garden area.