1. Affordable Housing Scheme at Garston Farm
- Increasing building costs have threatened the viability of the scheme
- Making changes to reduce costs would create problems with planning and timescales but we think we can achieve viability by transferring the three proposed market houses to shared ownership
- This new scheme is eligible for a higher grant and looks financially viable
- We can’t be confident that the scheme can go ahead until the construction contract is signed.
You will know from reports in AAM that the last few months have been difficult for the affordable housing project. We have been trying to secure a contractor who could offer a tender price that was economically viable at a time when the building industry is facing significant increased costs.
Brighter Places, our partner housing association, has put the scheme out to tender three times and has finally found a contractor who is keen to move ahead. Attempts to reduce costs by changing the physical characteristics of the scheme are counteracted by increased difficulties with planning and timescales.
Finding a solution
A better strategy is to eliminate the three market houses. These were intended to cross-subsidise the scheme, but currently will not do so. Instead, we intend to substitute three additional shared ownership houses. This strategy will attract a higher level of government subsidy and will increase the benefits to local people. At our village consultations, we had been asked if it was possible to have more shared ownership homes so this seems a positive step.
Shared ownership allows people to buy a share of a property while paying rent on the rest. This reduces the mortgage and the required deposit so getting onto the property ladder becomes more affordable (more information at: Gov.uk website).
We continue to have the support of Homes England and South Gloucestershire Council who are providing grant funding for the project. Both organisations recognise that our difficulties are being shared across the construction sector including many other CLT projects.
We will not be certain the scheme can go ahead until we have signed with our contractor. But we are hopeful that we have now found a good way forward. We will report progress in our Annual Report for the AGM.
2. Renewable Energy Project
- The Energy Working Group has been exploring renewable energy generation for over 3 years
- It received a government grant that paid for specialist consultants to explore options
- The location of Marshfield limits options (due to grid connection costs) but it may be possible to mitigate this by substantially increasing local generation capacity in partnership with South Gloucestershire Council
- The findings and options will be shared with the village on October21st & 22nd in the Community Centre
- All are invited to come and give their views.
The MCLT Energy Working Group has been exploring for over three years whether it is possible to set up a renewable energy generation project which would benefit the local community and contribute to addressing the climate crisis.
In 2021 the EWG received a government grant to carry out a feasibility study into providing locally, sufficient sustainable (solar) energy to offset the total future annual demand of the village. This was reported at an open Zoom meeting, limited by Covid, on 29th March 2021.
The feasibility study aimed to assess the financial viability of establishing a 5 MW solar farm north of the A420 that would:
- help meet the climate crisis by offsetting our electricity consumption
- generate a financial return for other community projects
- provide a reduction in electricity bills for the village
- provide an opportunity for residents to invest in the project.
The work carried out during the feasibility study, by ourselves and our chosen external consultants (Locogen), has provided an enormous amount of valuable information. This is contained in a substantial report produced by Locogen earlier this year.
As a result of the location of Marshfield relative to the National Grid, the cost of connection to the nearest Western Power Distribution high voltage point means our initial objective is not financially viable as it stands.
However, Locogen have identified a possible solution by substantially increasing local generation capacity overall and sharing the cost of connection with the support of SGC who have already evaluated a feasibility study for a project to generate some 12MW of wind power.
We aim to present and share the findings with everyone in Marshfield Community Centre on Oct 21st & 22nd 2022 and see what you think about the different options.
This will be a long term and complex project and we would only want to continue to explore options if there is sufficient support from our community.
Please put the date in your diary and come to the Energy consultation in October and share your views on the work so far. We will let you have further details nearer the date.
Please contact any of the MCLT Board or Energy Working Group through a note via the Tolzey Hall or by email if you have questions about either project.
Energy Working Group
Jim Brookes (chair EWG: firstname.lastname@example.org), Tony Kerr (Project leader: email@example.com ), Colin Eden, Geoff Greenwood, Anthony Nolan, Dan Smith.
Christine Eden (chair: firstname.lastname@example.org) Oliver Shirley (vice -chair), Vicky Williams (Secretary), Simon Turner (Treasurer), Jim Brookes, Ian Dawes, Ian Jones, Ros Snow.