In March 2021, it was announced that Fenland District Council and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council had secured £4.5m from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) demonstrator, run by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to improve the energy efficiency of social housing.
The grant was match funded with a further £4.5m investment from Clarion Housing Group, the largest social landlord in the country that owns and manages thousands of homes across the two local authorities.
The funds are being used to significantly upgrade 115 of the most energy inefficient Clarion homes in Fenland and Tonbridge and Malling, which currently have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or below.
Work on three pilot homes has now been completed across the two local authorities, with a further 112 scheduled to be upgraded over the next five months.
Retrofit measures implemented include triple glazed windows and extensive external wall and loft insulation, as well as green technologies including air source heat pumps, photovoltaic (PV) panels and centralised mechanical ventilation.
As a result, carbon emissions will be reduced, and it is expected that those living in upgraded properties will save between £300 and £500 on their energy bills each year.
Clarion estimates that the project will also generate 68 jobs and apprenticeships in the green energy sector by employing local sub-contractors and installers.
Clarion will be bidding for further funding through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund to help accelerate work to improve the energy efficiency of its homes nationwide.
Mrs Challice, 79, has lived in a Clarion home on the outskirts of Tonbridge for 49 years. Her home was one of the first to be upgraded thanks to the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and the work is now complete, with Clarion estimating that she will save more than £500 on her energy bills each year.
Mrs Challice said:
“Whilst work was being completed, I was visited every day by the resident liaison officer to check in, and the team on site have been brilliant. They have explained what was happening and how long it would take, and I appreciate how much work has been done to my home. The weather hasn’t been cold since the work was completed, but when it was really hot the other day I noticed that my home was comfortably cool unlike before, which was great.”
Michelle Reynolds, Chief Operating Officer at Clarion Housing Group, said:
“It has been a privilege to work with local and national government on the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund demonstrator project. At Clarion, we are committed to improving the energy efficiency of our homes across the country and the more we work together, the faster we can reduce carbon emissions and cut energy costs for our residents. We’re already looking forward to the next phase of the project and the chance to work with partners in our supply chain to expand our green workforce and further accelerate progress.”
Cllr Samantha Hoy, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member for Housing, said:
“We are extremely proud to be playing a part in this fantastic project, working alongside our partners Clarion and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council to help improve the energy efficiency of social homes and to pilot new and innovative ways of working. It’s really exciting that the first property in Fenland has now been completed and we can’t wait to see work start on the other homes across the district. The retrofit measures, including solar panels and insulation, will cut carbon emissions and give residents more money in their pockets from cheaper energy bills. But what is also exciting is seeing how the learning and knowledge from this project will filter through to other properties in Fenland, with local businesses considering how they can take advantage of this opportunity and diversifying into the sector, and also how it will be converted at scale to help meet the national targets for energy efficiency.”