Council unveils future of socal housing

A NEWLY refurbished semi detached house unveiled last week has been billed as the future for all of Uttlesford’s social housing.

Uttlesford District Council (UDC) opened a 1950s three-bedroom semi in Wendens Ambo to the public last Thursday (Feb 2) to showcase a new breed of energy efficient houses that it hopes to roll out across its entire stock.

As exclusively reported last week, the move becomes even more significant after the district council’s announcement it is inheriting its housing stock from central government – freeing up �16.3m to be spent over the next five years.

Mark Wilson, UDC energy officer, said refurbishing the property was the first step in a gradual programme.

“We have a responsibility to give our tenants a safe, warm place to live. This property was within standard building regulations but we don’t think this is good enough any more,” he said.

“We refurbished this house so we could find out what we could realistically do with our housing stock and highlight the difficulties of installing measures like this.

“Plus, it is a chance for the public to see a working case study and if they want to improve their home they see what we have done here and talk to suppliers.”

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The Reporter sent Mike Edwards along to see what the district council has planned for its 2,800 strong portfolio of houses.

A range of retrofitted measures have been installed such as internal and external insulation, thermal floor slab, loft insulation, whole house heat recovery system, the oil boiler has been replaced with an air source heat pump, A-rated windows have been installed to make the building thermally efficient.

Money saving features include: LED lighting, a rainwater harvesting system, a kitchen made from recycled materials, low energy appliances, eco-paint and permeable patio

Mr Wilson explained that UDC had chosen the property in Wendens Ambo because the majority of its housing stock is a 1950s semi.

“The house was also in need of structural work so it was going to be out of circulation for a long time. It came out of circulation in April and a family moved in last weekend; however the work to improve efficiency took around three months.

“Effectively we have future proofed the house. 50 years from now we will still have a house that is cheap to run and thermally efficient.”

Russell Goodey, building services manager, said: “Now that we are set to own our housing stock we will get an extra �1m a year to spend improving it over the next 30 years or so.

“We are very keen to help fuel poverty – oil is the most expensive fuel for heating at the moment – and this is the opportunity to provide a better facility and reduce heating costs for our tenants.”

Mr Goodey explained that despite the rent increase due to UDC owning the stock, tenants would be better off because the energy savings – around 75 per cent - would be passed on.