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Tag Archives: Housing
June 2013: The London Assembly Housing and Regeneration Committee has published findings of their year-long inquiry into London’s private rented sector housing. Their report - Rent Reform: Making London’s Private Rented Sector Fit for Purpose – includes 20 wide-ranging recommendations to the Mayor looking to improve the situation in London for what – the Committee calls – “Generation Rent”. Included amongst these is one specifically in relation to the energy efficiency of private rented sector homes.
Recommendation 9 states that the “Mayor needs to ensure that minimum energy efficiency standards are achieved in the private rented sector by 2018, in accordance with the Energy Act (2011), and that sufficient standards are achieved by 2025 to meet the targets for domestic carbon dioxide emissions set out in the Mayor’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy. To do this the Mayor should identify properties in the private rented sector that could benefit from the Government’s Green Deal energy efficiency programme and inform landlords once formal offers become available. The Mayor should also ensure that landlords also have access to ECO funding streams to help ensure their property is energy efficient so tenants’ housing costs can be reduced.”
The Mayor published in December 2012 a new ‘London Rental Standard‘ setting out his proposals to help improve London’s private rented sector. The Committee however are fairly dismissive of the standard stating that “The Mayor has made a commitment to improve the private rented offer in London through a new London rental standard that landlords are encouraged to sign up to. But a majority of the Committee believes that this standard does not offer anything new – it reflects current basic legal requirements and existing accreditation schemes.” [p9]
This is certainly true in relation to standard’s requirement on energy efficiency – which is exactly the same as those set out in the Government’s Energy Act 2011 (see an earlier post here for a full explanation – including why the requirement should be more demanding). But – confusingly- despite the committee’s criticism, their recommendation 9 does not look to go any further on energy efficiency than that set out by in the Housing Standard/Energy Act either…?
The committee also sets out that “One in four Londoners now rents privately and there have been significant rent rises in the capital. Median rents in London rose last year by 9 per cent to £1,196 per month.” Recent work by the Energy Bill Revolution has highlighted the impact of rent increases in the private rented sector. Whilst the Mayor has as yet not made an assessment of the impact of such rent increases on London’s fuel poor, the Mayor has reported that his RE:NEW programme is paying particular attention to delivering energy efficiency measures to the private rented sector.
June 2013: “A scientific experiment to prove or disprove green-building theories is to be undertaken by Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster’s property company. Two almost-identical grotty hotels in Belgravia are the test bed.
Two weeks ago, Grosvenor obtained permission to rebuild 119 Ebury Street using the latest energy-saving materials. The Grade II-listed shell will be converted into three rented flats, and the energy use monitored.
Number 125 Ebury Street was converted into two rented flats last November. The five-storey listed block was rebuilt to meet present energy-saving standards. The apartments will be monitored to provide benchmark data.”
“Number 125 meets the current 40% carbon-saving target,” says Starr. “At number 119, we hope to meet the 2050 target of an 80% saving. That should translate into a 40% saving on the energy bills.” Those wishing to double glaze their listed home or flat in Westminster will have to be patient. Work on 119 will not finish until 2015. The two addresses will then be monitored for two years to prove the case — either way.”
Read full Evening Standard story here. Further information on technologies to be employed at 119 Ebury St – which include solar PV, solar thermal, air source heat pump and ‘phase change’ internal wall insulation, can be found on the following planning report by Westminster Council – and a lot more detail can be found on the development’s sustainability planning application reports here.
March 2013: A paper presented at the most recent GLA Housing Investment Group meeting has set out of the opportunities and challenges in expanding the Mayor’s housing retrofit programme, RE:FIT under the new landscape of the Green Deal and ECO. The paper sets out a proposal for additional funding for 2013/14.
“This paper seeks approval to allocate up to £150,000 for interim support to deliver early Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) projects through the existing RE:NEW framework.
“To avoid a slowdown in delivery during this period, we intend to procure interim support to help manage the early pipeline of projects that have been developed through our work with social housing landlords.
“Response to this project has been very positive and currently there are over £10m of potential projects currently being reviewed which could be ready to tender in the next 3-6 months, with a further £77m of identified projects under review. The total pipeline includes over £950m worth of potential projects and over 100,000 dwellings.“
Additional information is available in Appendix A- RE:NEW project pipeline and Appendix B- Pipeline projects currently under review – status update
The process to identify projects was kicked off in a workshop at City Hall in December 2012: a great paper on Financing retrofit in London social housing by Verco was presented – and post workshop Verco have also prepared a summary of proceedings. Amongst the outputs the key points for future success in attracting funding for energy efficiency retrofit in the social housing sector included:
- Senior leadership buy-in (e.g. to overcome barriers)
- Economies of scale
- Get dedicated lead
- Accurate stock data
- Build relationships with suppliers and contractors ASAP
- Know your stock – to be able to negotiate
- Data – Tower Hamlets have a database of all properties in the borough (do surveys, get EPC data from DECC, not HEED – automatic calculation of Golden Rule) and;
- There are wide differences in the helpfulness of planners in different London boroughs – if planners are less cooperative, try a multi-prong approach via sustainability officers or ward councillors (!)
March 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:
Collective Switching initiative by boroughs; details on decentralised energy projects being delivered by the Mayor; Mayoral response to the Government’s ECO brokerage consultation; the spend timeline for DECC funding to the GLA and boroughs; the GLA response to the Government’s consultation on the definition of fuel poverty; the impact of sun spots on London’s CO2 emissions; a London target for ECO; progress on delivering the Green Deal through the Mayor’s RE:NEW programme; recently published GLA environment reports; recent meetings of the Mayor’s Environment Adviser; the Mayor’s position on climate change; the commissioning of Weather Action; CHP capacity secured through planning in 2012; Sutton energy from waste plant; the Mayor’s support for solar power in London; emissions from the new London Bus; support from the DfT’s Green Bus Fund to TfL; changes being made to the Congestion Change Exemption; details of the Greener Vehicle Discount; support for biomethane buses in London; Camden’s biomethane fuelling station; RE:NEW’s support to tackling fuel poverty and the list of non-GLA organisations that have utilised the RE:FIT programme.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
December 2012: Following last month’s evidence session (and see here), the London Assembly Health and Environment Committee has written to the Mayor, Department for Energy and Climate Change and energy companies about fuel poverty and domestic energy efficiency retrofit. The Committee’s correspondence can be seen here.
Writing to Minister for Energy Greg Barker, the Committee say: “The Committee would also like to know what lessons you are taking from the experience of CERT and CESP (and other programmes such as the GLA’s RE:NEW) for the Green Deal and ECO, and in particular for achieving better take-up and delivery in London. These new programmes provide an excellent opportunity to redress the previous imbalance and to show DECC’s commitment to fair delivery in London.”
The Committee quiz the Mayor over future proposals for the RE:NEW programme, asking “the Committee would like information on whether and how the plans it has heard are compatible with any further down-scaling of the annual GLA resource allocated to the programme. Your Deputy referred the Committee to the ECO funding stream but this is, we understand, for the retrofitting work itself. Is it expected to support GLA front-end activity, promotion or pipeline assembly? He also referred to a team of 90 staff within the Housing and Land Directorate, including staff transferring from the Homes and Communities Agency. The Committee would be interested to hear what quantum of staff time, and what other resource, will be allocated to RE:NEW work in 2013/14.”
December 2012: Three talks focused on communal heating were presented at the recent National Housing Federation ‘London Development Conference. The series of ‘go on, go green’ slides – downloadable here – contain some useful information:
- Sam Hunt of BSSEC sets out some really clear slides on the design approach for heat mapping, as well as issues that need to be considered when implementing district heating and CHP. Worth a look.
- Robert Greene of a2dominion housing association states that they have a 6,000 home development pipeline over the next 5 years, of which 70% will use communal heating systems
- Results from an ongoing G15 – Communal Heating Research Project are also presented (G15 group – consists of London 15 largest Housing Associations) and highlight that there are currently 134 Schemes with Communal (Decentralised) heating. Much more very useful info is touched upon from the research, however the final results from this will not be published until April/May 2013. See the slides for the full information.
13 December 2012: The Mayor has today published a new ‘London Rental Standard’ where- the press release states – he “has called for the establishment of a new deal with landlords, letting agents and tenants based around a voluntary and transparent ‘London Rental Standard’ (LRS), which will be consulted on with the industry and launched next year by the GLA.”
Today’s publication, ‘The Mayor’s Housing Covenant: Making the private rented sector work for Londoners’, sets out the Mayor’s proposals for improving private renting for Londoners. Included in there are commitments that:
- The Mayor has three principal objectives for improving the private rented sector (PRS) in London which includes promoting standards through improving the energy efficiency of the stock.
- To do this the Mayor will work with government and energy providers to ensure that the Green Deal works for London’s PRS
- The Mayor has also committed (para 2.3) to address fuel poverty and encourage more landlords to take advantage of energy efficiency programmes.
The report goes on to say (page 33) that:
Improving energy efficiency
In terms of energy efficiency the PRS tends to perform well compared with other tenures but there is still significant room for improvement. In 2010/11, the average SAP rating for private rented homes in London was 57.3, worse than in social housing but better than in owner occupied properties and better than the national average for the PRS. The latter is probably explained by the larger share of flats in London’s PRS compared with elsewhere (flats are generally more efficient than houses).
From 2016, landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse requests from their tenants for consent to undertake energy efficiency improvements where they can be funded by the Green Deal, and from 2018 all private rented properties must be brought up a minimum efficiency standard.” The latter requires all private rented properties (domestic and non-domestic) should be brought up to a minimum energy efficiency standard rating, likely to be set at EPC rating “E”. Further information on DECC’s website here.
Appendix 1 of the document contains the draft London Rental Standard and the energy commitment goes no further than the rather disappointing standards set by Government in the Energy Act 2011 stating that “landlords must work towards compliance with duties imposed upon them by the Energy Act 2011, especially related to requests for energy efficiency improvements by tenants and in relation to low ratings in energy performance.” The Mayor should instead look to bringing in the recommendations on PRS energy efficiency made by a coalition of organisations during the passage of the 2011 Energy Bill.
Any feedback on the contents of the Housing Covenant paper need to be sent to the GLA by 15 February 2013.
3 December 2012: Energise Barnet CIC, a social enterprise, has submitted a plan to Barnet Council to create £200 million of social, economic and environmental benefit through the installation of energy saving measures and renewables in 40,000 homes and buildings. Further details are on the following Energise Barnet press release.
Energise Barnet were awarded funding last year from Barnet’s Big Society Innovation Bank to help develop the proposal, and were also selected as a Pitch Pledge initiative (for which, see further information here and here).
Barnet highlighted earlier this year (see Q37) that it had “fully participated in both the Mayoral Group for London Councils and the Future of London research project on the Green Deal. It has used this involvement to enable an internal scoping process to take place on how it can best engage with the forthcoming national Green Deal agenda. From May 2012 the Council will begin work on preparing an Outline Business Case to explore and consider the way in which the Council might support the market to promote uptake ofthe Green Deal amongst local residents.”
November 2012: Government introduced a new affordable warmth element share to the £1.3bn a year Energy Company Obligation (ECO) earlier this year. The Carbon Saving Company Obligation (CSCo) is designed to target insulation measures in low-income communities defined using the bottom 15% of Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA) from the Index of Multiple Deprivation. A wider range of energy saving measures will be eligible for funding under the CSCo, including cavity wall, loft and solid wall insulation. Additionally, in contrast to the bulk of the ECO funds, the CSCo will be open to applications from social housing providers.
Government have set the level of the CSCo at 20% of the overall Carbon Saving Obligation element of the ECO, representing around £190m per year. DECC have stated that London has proportionally a higher number of these low income areas and hence should – in theory – fare better under the CSCo element of ECO than other regions.
A full list of LSOA qualifying for the CSCo is available in the a July 2012 DECC guidance document available here. The data provided by DECC is not in the most usable format so it’s helpful that the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) has produced an Excel version of the LSOA data – download here. The CSE dataset also adds ward name, ward code and region to the original DECC dataset – to give the data extra value. The CSE dataset show that London LSOA make up 815 out of the total 5159 areas selected - just under 16 per cent. Hence, this should mean that if energy suppliers deliver their Carbon Saving Communities Obligation to the same ratio as the number of low income areas identified through the LSOA data, £30m of insulation (ie 16% of £190m) should be directed to some of the poorest homes in London, free of charge, every year, from 2013.
Grant funding will be also directed to low income households through other elements of the ECO (the affordable warmth and carbon saving obligations) but in contrast to the CSCo this will be directed to i. the non-social housing sector and will also be predominantly directed to ii. harder to treat housing through the installation of Solid Wall Insulation (SWI).
September 2012: Recent parliamentary question in the House of Commons provides a useful summary on where London housing statistics are kept and collated.
Statistics on new housing starts and completions in each local authority in London, taken from the National Statistics on House Building, are published in live table 253 on the Department for Communities and Local Government’s website which is available on the following link.
These statistics show starts and completions split by tenure according to whether the organisation responsible for the development is a private company, a housing association or a local authority. The figures for housing associations and local authorities can together be used as a proxy for affordable housing starts and completions. However, these figures may underestimate affordable housing supply and overestimate private housing, as they are from building control records in which the ultimate tenure may be difficult to identify.
Statistics on the full extent of affordable housing supply by local authority are published in the Department’s live tables 1006, 1007 and 1008, which are available at the following link.
From 1 April 2012, the Mayor of London has had oversight of strategic housing, regeneration and economic development in London.
September 2012: The Retrofit for the Future programme’s Low Energy Buildings database website has recently been updated. The database is a repository of low-energy building information created to help inform the planning and development of low energy new build and refurbishment. The website allows users to browse projects in the database, and create and edit projects if you have a log-in.
A projects map highlights schemes funded across the UK and direct links to the 11 London based retrofit schemes follow below.
Eco Hub at Lordship Recreation Ground, Haringey
Hawthorn Road – Metropolitan Housing Trust, Haringey
The Muse – Islington
Mayville Community Centre
Tower Hamlets Passivhaus Retrofit
Camden Passivhaus – London’s first certified Passivhaus
PassivHaus Retrofit – Princedale Road
Hounslow Passivhaus Retrofit – Grove Road
One Planet Sutton Retrofit
Further information on the ‘Retrofit for the Future’ programme and evaluation of the projects submitted can be viewed here.
September 2012: SuperHomes are open once again to the public to visit in on the weekend of 22 and 23 September 2012 . SuperHomes are older properties renovated by their owners to reduce carbon emissions by at least 60%. These include Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and more modern properties. As the Superhomes website says “Attending an open day is a great way to get a relaxed touch and feel experience of what it means to live with green technologies in a dramatically improved older home like this. It is also a chance to speak to a homeowner with first hand experience of both the benefits and challenges of a major refurbishment project.”
Links to homes available to book to visit in London are provided below:
Bertram Street, Camden
Chester Road, Camden (22nd only)
St Augustine’s Road, Camden (23rd only)
Kingston (22nd only)
Kingston upon Thames, and
Lewisham (23rd only)