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Lewes District Council: Local Retrofit Action

Category: Environment
Published: 27 February 2023

Lewes District Council: Local Retrofit Action

The project

The council is working in partnership with six other local authorities, as part of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, to deliver an insulation and renewable energy programme for 40,000 social homes across their areas. The cross-sector Housing Retrofit Taskforce established in 2021, with partners investing £300,000, will work to unlock the path for local homes to be zero carbon by 2030.

The ‘Lewes’ model empowers local supply chains to encourage economic growth and upskilling, bringing together whole carbon and retrofit experts, alongside universities and partners from all tiers of local government. The taskforce has the overarching objective to future proof the region’s homes.

In turn, it will chart how social housing and public sector buildings can be improved at scale across the region while boosting new skills, quality ‘green-collar’ jobs, and investment in low carbon industries. The partners’ councils agreed to tap into a £1 billion housing repairs and maintenance budget for council-owned social housing to decarbonise these homes.

The taskforce has, in response to the cost-of-living crisis, identified the need to target fuel costs at the same time as developing the supply chain for retrofit. However, the costs of deep retrofit rising steadily alongside inflation has indicated a funding gap in local Housing Revenue Account accounts.

The Benefits

The taskforce has now undertaken its initial research. This proved the premise of the collaboration that by leveraging council budgets alongside long-term collaboration, is the optimal manner to deliver long-term retrofit planning.

The partnership will now move into design and mobilisation of the programme, seeking grant funding from central government ready to deliver zero carbon homes by 2030.

This collaboration will deliver mass retrofitting in the fact of stop-start funding for retrofitting of private homes and social housing. By kickstarting the market through their own housing stock, this will develop the skills and market required to deliver a comprehensive retrofitting programme to all homes in their area.

Particularly for the rural districts in the partnership, this will act as an invaluable lever to encouraging green local economic growth.  By focusing on their local economies, these councils will be able deliver retrofitting at a cheaper cost for all private households seeking to improve energy efficiency.

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