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Energy efficient housing is shaping Pendle’s future

3 min read

Housing matters everywhere in the UK but issues differ, particularly in Northern towns and villages.

One thing is always true; people need to have a place to call home. In Pendle, despite some of the prettiest landscapes in Britain, house prices remain below average so getting housing right is key to attracting investment.

In the shadow of the beautiful Pendle Hill, finding appropriate sites for new housing estates can be difficult, so I’m working with local housing providers to make sure existing properties are up to scratch too. Unlike the high rises in some Northern cities, housing in Pendle is often made up of old workers’ terraces and 1950s family housing. Built to meet the needs of their day, they require modernising to reach the standards expected in 2023. Built long before cavity wall insultation became standard in the 1970s and compulsory in the 1990s, these properties cost far more to heat than better insulated newer homes.

That’s why, when the Prime Minister visited Pendle in April, housing was high on his agenda. He spoke to the press about the Social Housing Decarbonsation Fund (SHDF) and I was delighted to tell him that we’re seeing the benefits of the government backed scheme in Pendle already.

Together Housing is our largest social housing provider locally and has nearly 4,000 properties in the constituency. They’ve been investing from the first wave of the SHDF funding by improving insulation, adding solar panels and also air source heating.

To provide new homes in Pendle, Together has worked through an enterprise project that includes Pendle Council to tap into further government funding. They commissioned a local builder to develop 70 homes on empty land using solar PV, ground source heat pumps and good insulation. I’ve been impressed on visits to the site in Colne, which will be named after Jim Smart, a well-known local man who provided a tenant and community voice for many years.

Meanwhile Together NetZero (part of the housing group) is adding insulation to many older properties that, by design, can’t be insulated from the inside. Expected savings for an average resident are around £170 per year, thereby putting money directly into people’s pockets.  In addition to the insulation, some homes will also have air source heat pumps installed, replacing unpopular electric storage heating and leading to further savings for residents.

The homes receiving this retrofit treatment have an energy efficiency rating (EPC) of D or below, with the work moving them up to being at least a C. Data gathered from the panels, heating systems and thermostats will help Together Housing work with its residents to reduce their bills even more. This work begins in Pendle later this year and I’m looking forward to meeting residents who’ve benefited from the many improvements.

Andrew Stephenson

Constituents often ask me why this work hasn't happened already. The economic reality is that bringing a home up to Grade C isn’t cheap and, while some properties will benefit from approaches other than retrofit, that still leaves a hefty bill which a homeowner or housing association must meet. While much of the government’s investment has been matched from Together’s own finances, it’s government investment that’s creating better housing in East Lancashire (and the rest of the country).

Making housing cheaper to run and more attractive to live in is a key part of levelling up. Investment in cities plays its part, but strengthening traditional towns and communities requires housing that provides a price efficient, modern solution, which is what we’re now seeing in Pendle.

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