Posted by: Philippa Ward02/12/2009
Retrofitting will be the next big thing for the sector - and it makes perfect sense when you visit one of the overhauled schemes.
On Friday, I caught a train to the middle of the Hampshire countryside, to a small town called Liphook. Radian Housing Association was holding its first sustainability conference there.
As I was chairing the Question Time session in the afternoon, I got a ride on the tour bus in the morning and visited some of the landlord’s new retrofitted homes. The houses being transformed are Reema, with hollow concrete walls, which were only intended to last for 30 years when they were put up in the 1950s – and now impossible to get a mortgage on. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t well-liked by their tenants – and very cosy, with a bit of care. That is what Radian has been giving them, with full external insulation and overhaul.
We spoke to the Leslies, who are waiting in a retrofitted property next door while their home is transformed. They are already pleased with the change and didn’t need to have the heating on while we were there, despite the chilly November day outside. The only quibble from Mr Leslie is that he is unlikely to get photovoltaic panels on his house, as they will be going on the void properties – so new tenants will benefit from reduced electricity bills, green energy and possibly money back from a feed-in tariff.
Going into a house that had not been tackled, and comparing it with the Leslies’ temporary home, it just seemed so obvious that this is what the social housing sector should be tackling next, following Decent Homes. If we can’t build enough new social homes, we can at least take care of the ones we’ve got and make sure that their occupants are not living in fuel poverty, not experiencing health problems because of cold or damp, and that the houses last as long a possible.
How to pay for it and make that happen? That was what we discussed at the afternoon conference: more on that tomorrow.
From Green paper
Examining the latest developments from the world of sustainable housing.