Our homes are the most important places for us. They give us shelter, provide comfort and keep us healthy. They’re also a big contributor to our carbon footprint.
That’s why homes and housing is a key part of our work towards a carbon neutral Cheltenham.
Our work to decarbonise our homes will take a long time. It’ll be costly and challenging. But it’s something we can’t ignore and it has more positive outcomes than simply cutting carbon emissions. Energy efficient homes will be warmer and cost less to run – helping our bank balances and improving our health.
Cheltenham Borough Homes, which builds and manages our local council housing in partnership with the Borough Council, knows this. They’ve recently submitted a planning application for Cheltenham’s first carbon neutral council houses. The application at 320 Swindon Road is for 24 properties that will be extremely energy efficient, powered by air source heat pumps rather than gas boilers and also produce energy by using solar panels. It’s a really good news story and it’s finally happening because of our £180million investment in homes and our climate emergency declaration, which empowers Cheltenham Borough Homes to make a big difference.
On a similar note, we are bidding for funding to upgrade some of the least energy efficient council houses. If we are successful, between 50 and 60 homes will be made more energy efficient. We’ll also be using the scheme to test the impact of using heat pumps in older properties – ensuring we can use this type of technology without putting any social housing tenants at risk of fuel poverty.
However, the scale of the challenge is huge. We have around 4,500 council houses to upgrade in our efforts to make the borough carbon neutral. And that doesn’t take account of the private sector developers. Many house builders are still lagging way behind, while the government dithers about changing the rules to improve standards and update planning regulations.
The progress at the national and international level is slow and frustrating, but Cheltenham is moving ahead with ambitious proposals despite the challenging financial picture for local areas. We cannot afford to do anything else.