Session six: Housing and Buildings

Published Friday 18 November 2022 at 11:38

This week was the penultimate education session before the People’s Jury on the Climate Change Crisis begin shaping their recommendations, with members hearing from a range of experts attached to the third chosen theme – buildings and housing.

Darren Tweed, strategic planning and transport manager for Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, set the scene on the local housing stock with key facts and figures. He also discussed the legal framework involved in decision making around new homes and the local plan for the borough.

Liam Gregson from Northern Housing Consortium, who represent social housing providers in the North, then offered his insight on issues around energy efficiency of older housing market that is often seen throughout the North, particularly within social housing, and what steps can be taken to combat this. Alongside this, Liam discussed Northern Housing’s experience of running their own Social Housing Tenant’s Climate Jury (skip to 11:00).

This was followed by Patrick Berry, the Director of NetZero at Together Housing – the main provider of social housing within Blackburn with Darwen, managing around 8000 properties in the borough. Patrick highlighted that the housing stock is responsible for 16% of all carbon emissions in the UK, and then offered insight into what measures are being actioned by Together Housing themselves to reduce this – with a main focus on improving insulation (skip to 19:00).

Finally, Andrew Darbyshire from McDermott Homes addressed the Jury, offering a developer’s perspective on the industry. McDermott Homes are one of the main contributors to private housing delivery in Blackburn with Darwen, with 660 housing commitments in the borough. Andrew shared that all houses in the McDermott portfolio to be completed from March 2023 onwards have been redesigned to allow for air source heat pumps, a more sustainable heating solution. However, there are concerns in the market around the extra capacity required on electric grids as the market dramatically shifts towards electrically powered energy supplies (skip to 32:48).

This was then followed by a healthy Q&A session with the speakers, and more thorough discussions in smaller breakout groups. Jury members strived to further understand the market, what barriers there are in sustainable housing and the ethics or logic behind decision making.

Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Cllr Phil Riley, attended the session as an observer. He said:

I had the pleasure of speaking at the first People’s Jury session just a couple of months ago – yet observing the session this week, it was very impressive to see the progress made. You can sense a real purpose and passion in the room, alongside the group’s evolved community dynamic, that is inspiring to be around.

I very much look forward to seeing the recommendations put forward by the Jury at the launch event in January. I’m sure there will be plenty for us all to consider as we strive towards a greener Blackburn with Darwen.

Jury members will meet for 30 hours between September and December 2022, with the task of forming a set of recommendations on what organisations and residents across the borough could be doing to help tackle the issue of climate change.

An Oversight Panel made up of local stakeholders and partners, including organisations such as UCLan, Community CVS, Youth Zone and the Lancashire Council of Mosques, has also been assembled to ensure a fair and rigorous process is maintained and that local partners have a role within this journey too. View all Oversight Panel members here.

The new People’s Jury is part of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s climate action plan, with the aims that it will drive local investment in the work and ensure residents and organisations are very much part of this journey.

The sessions are being facilitated and run by Shared Future CIC, one of the UK’s leading experts in organising People’s Juries.

Initially, more than 6000 letters were sent out to randomly selected households in the borough inviting them to register to take part in the jury.

Those who applied were subject to a thorough selection process to ensure there’s a diverse range of people – with 32 members reflecting the local population of Blackburn with Darwen in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, where people live and attitude to climate change.

Follow the latest updates from each session on The Shuttle.

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