Retrofitting all Harrogate social homes could take a decade and cost around £100milllion

The retrofitting of all social housing in Harrogate to zero-carbon standards could cost around £100milllion and take a decade to complete.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 8:39 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 9:05 am
Almost 4,000 social homes across the Harrogate district need upgrading.
Almost 4,000 social homes across the Harrogate district need upgrading.

The task has been described as a "huge undertaking" by Harrogate Borough Council which has revealed plans to upgrade almost 4,000 homes across the district as part of an overall aim to achieve a net zero-carbon economy by 2038.

It will involve more energy efficient heating systems, insulation, glazing and solar panels being installed to make homes greener - with a pilot scheme on 85 properties starting this summer.

Vincent van der Meulen, operations manager at the council, said the pilot scheme would provide a better idea of the overall costs which are currently estimated to be over £98million.

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He also said the council would take "every opportunity" to use government funding to cover the costs.

He told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday: "Harrogate Borough Council has a target to achieve net-zero emissions for the borough by 2038.

"To ensure our housing stock supports that ambition, a comprehensive and costed programme is required. The plan is intended to create a coordinated approach with a clear evaluation of the combined measures.

"The current estimated cost is in excess of £98million. However, this figure will be refined."

Making houses greener is a key government target in the fight against climate change as the UK has some of the least energy efficient housing in western Europe.

This comes as the cost of keeping homes warm and running has been brought into sharp focus during the ongoing energy crisis which is being driven by a surge in global gas and oil prices.

Harrogate Borough Council said it has already taken action to upgrade some of its social homes, although it added this has been done on an "ad hoc" basis and that its latest plans will provide a more coordinated approach.

The pilot scheme will cost around £2.3million and run until mid-2023.

If it proves to be a success, the retrofitting of all social homes will start soon after with a completion target of mid-2033.

Councillor Mike Chambers, cabinet member for housing and safer communities at the council, said the plans should be made a high priority by the new North Yorkshire Council which will take over control of all services across the county from April 2023.

He also expressed hopes that Harrogate would be seen as an exemplar in the push to improve the energy efficiency of council homes.

He told Tuesday's meeting: "We already have a stock of just short of 4,000 homes - all of which are above the government's decent homes standard.

"I'm hopeful as we move forward we will be seen as leading in the field.

"Careful coordination will be needed when we come to the new North Yorkshire Council, particularly as we are only one of three councils in the county holding housing stock.

"We will make sure we provide a lead which others are keen to follow."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter