Green Deal Event – Brighton CIHSE

HTA and Kingspan Insulation, in collaboration with the Housing Forum, hosted a Green Deal event at the Metropole hotel Brighton during the CIH SE conference. The speakers were Emma Bulmer from the DECC Green Deal team, Cllr Joe Goldberg, cabinet member for Finance and CO2 emission reductions from LB Haringey, and myself from HTA. The event was chaired by Shelagh Grant from the Housing Forum.

Emma Bulmer opened the event with a description of the Green Deal and how it will work for consumers, providers and installers. She confirmed that the secondary legislation will be in place this year and that the first Green Deals should start to happen in late 2012. She highlighted the work of Birmingham and Gentoo with British Gas who are pioneering projects now.

Cll Joe Goldberg followed with an introduction to the Haringey 40:20 initiative and the potential role of the Local Authority in delivering the Green Deal. He described options such as

-the Local Authority providing the finance using prudential borrowing,

-acting as a Green Deal Provider, or

-providing a leadership role in bringing together other parts of the industry to coordinate the Green Deal and building a consensus among its residents to participate in it.

He pointed out that the Green Deal requires a strategic response to housing, there are some places where it makes more sense to demolish and regenerate than to apply the Green Deal, this strategic view needs to be taken early to ensure that we don’t waste resources upgrading the wrong properties.

My main points were that

– the Green Deal is something that the housing industry needs to sell to people, they are not going to come to us. Currently the Green Deal is not sufficiently attractive to people, but Emma said that DECC is looking at using the £200m announced in the last budget to incentivise take up.

– we will lose any cost efficiencies if we try and sell the Green Deal on a house by house basis, we must deliver the Green Deal on an area basis if we are to deliver it profitably, and there are many benefits to doing so.

– we need planning authorities to be behind the Green Deal, particularly to enable the delivery of large scale External Wall Insulation projects. EWI Needs to be permitted development for all areas outside of conservation areas and listed buildings.

– the Green Deal will be available late this year so let’s start planning the projects now. The Green Deal can act as a funding stream for part of a project, by funding some refurbishment, or by raising the value of existing stock. It also creates an opportunity to engage with residents who are affected by proposed development and provides a positive outcome for them from any project. It has the potential to turn NIMBYS into YIMBYS!

There followed a Question and Answer session chaired by Shelagh Grant.

Questions included

-whether it made sense for housing Associations to be regulated as Green Deal Providers in the same way as other providers. Since housing associations are already heavily regulated and are bound to protect the rights of their tenants, does it make sense to duplicate the regulation.

Emma responded that DECC has received 600 responses to the consultation and are still working through them.

– Housing Associations ought to be able to deliver Green Deal measures in tandem with their normal repairs and maintenance activity, why isn’t the Green Deal set up to enable this to happen more easily?

One comment from the floor was that – What housing associations need is for Local Authorities to provide leadership and act as a catalyst for getting the major players together in their boroughs to get the Green Deal to happen.

Overall it was a successful event, well attended and there has been good feedback from the attendees. If there is sufficient demand we will follow this up at next years conference.

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