PIONEERING new homes that will have “negligible” energy costs for tenants are moving forward in Bonhill.

The project for 27 houses and flats will champion the highest energy efficiency standards with insulation, solar panels and recovering and reusing the heat in the building.

A £6million contract was set to be awarded last month but got deferred to West Dunbartonshire Council’s housing and communities committee because of a discrepancy in the description.

The top housing standards are called Passivhaus and seven properties will be build to that level. The other 20 will be net-zero homes. The original contract had referred to a third silver standard, which is no longer part of the plans.

Peter Barry, chief officer of housing and employability, said of the Passivhaus designs: “Fuel costs should be negligible. It’s a fantastic anti-poverty initiative.”

Councillor David McBride said he was in favour of the project but questioned whether the average cost of more than £220,000 was the best value for money and whether the market for green homes would improve.

Mr Barry said rising construction costs, especially because of Brexit, were a factor. And the Pappert location in Bonhill was “particularly challenging” to build on, adding to the price.

But he said another factor was building net-zero homes now, as opposed to having to retrofit properties later.

The homes being built have multiple bedrooms for larger families, and costs will be checked for the business case for the project, councillors were told.

Other sites in West Dunbartonshire are being looked at to see how alternative property designs, such as modular homes, could make use of smaller gap sites.

Councillor Sally Page said of the Bonhill project: “We will not look back on this – I know we won’t.”

Council officers admitted that as new high-quality homes are built, there will be more desire from tenants to have their existing properties improved, especially to reduce energy costs.

Councillors agreed unanimously to a motion by Councillor Ian Dickson to authorise the contract to be awarded to CCG (Scotland) Ltd, and to get a future report on how to improve the existing housing stock to bring it up to the high standard being set by the pilot project.