Retrofitting

Retrofitting is the term for working to improve a home’s energy efficiency, making it easier to heat, able to retain that heat for longer, and for replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. This is a challenge for any existing house, but in Marshfield s are heightened by the historical nature of the housing stock – part of what makes Marshfield such a great place to live.
Come along Marshfield Community Centre 11:00 – 14:00 on Saturday 27th April for an exhibition on retrofitting, you can also view the exhibition boards from April 2024.

Some good news at last- the affordable housing scheme is underway!

We are delighted to have reached this point at last. As you know it’s been a long time coming; we hit the problems of Covid and the financial crisis of the last two years at just the wrong time and it has taken a lot of work to secure the extra funding required for the project to go ahead.
We are particularly delighted and relieved because we know of many other CLT’s whose schemes have floundered since the start of Covid due to the challenges of achieving planning consent and financial viability.
But after over 7 years, MCLT, Brighter Places and the owners of Garston Farm have signed the land transfer agreement for our new affordable housing development. MCLT now owns the site and has immediately leased it to Brighter Places who will build and manage the houses on a long-term lease. At the same time Brighter Places has also signed a contract with Winsley-White Building Contractors & Developers Ltd to build 15 new homes, 10 for social rent and 5 for shared ownership. See the Brighter Places press release.
Winsley White will now begin work on the necessary detailed plans and hopes to start work on site in April. The scheme will take around 14 months to build. The construction work will include access from the A420, the connection to Marshfield sewerage system and the creation of a new footpath from the development into the village.

All the homes are designed to provide sustainable living, with the affordable homes built to Pasivhaus standards which will provide high levels of insulation and low energy consumption using the latest Air Source Heat Pumps.

All the affordable homes are for people with a local connection to Marshfield and will take account of the housing need of applicants. Local connection will be assessed in relation to whether people have previously or currently live in Marshfield and if so for how long, whether people are employed in Marshfield and for what length of time and whether people have strong family links with someone who has lived in Marshfield for a few years.

Those details will be set out in a local letting policy which will be made available when the early stages of the build are underway, and the assessment and allocation process will start approximately 6 months before the completion of the project.

It is very important for anyone interested in renting one of these houses, to register as soon as possible with South Gloucestershire Council HomeChoice so that they can be seen to have a housing need at https://homechoice.southglos.gov.uk/. They will then be ready to apply through HomeChoice for one of the MCLT affordable homes when they are advertised on the HomeChoice website. Those interested in the shared ownership homes should register with Brighter Places first via their website https://bphomes.co.uk/ .
Brighter Places will host an open day when building starts on site for people to come and find out more information on the properties and how to apply for one and this will be well advertised.
When the scheme is finished and occupied it will stand as a major achievement, demonstrating that local people, with community support and political backing, can get together and succeed in providing for their own housing needs.

We would not have reached this point without support from South Gloucestershire Council, Homes England, Marshfield Parish Council, our members, Marshfield community, our architect Reed Watts who gave us a barn-like design that suits the area and from our partner Brighter Places who have never given up in spite of endless obstacles. We have all kept going because we know there is a real need in Marshfield for affordable homes for local people. Thank you to everyone for support over the long period of time that it has taken to get to this point.
MCLT Board: Christine Eden, Oliver Shirley, Simon Turner, Jim Brookes, Ian Dawes, Ian Jones, Ros Snow, Vicky Williams

Getting Solar Power to Save on Your Electricity Bill

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You have probably had a letter from Dan Norris, our Metro Mayor of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) telling you about a scheme (also supported by South Gloucestershire Council) for buying solar panels .

If you are thinking about this, the deadline for registering an interest (no commitment) in the buying scheme that they are presenting is Friday 27th October.

The WECA letter suggests going to the website of “Solar Together” to explore information about planning, costs, energy you might generate, etc: www.solartogether.co.uk/south-gloucestershire.

To help you make a decision about registering an interest and whether fitting solar (and a battery system) is worthwhile, the Energy Working Group of the MCLT has put together a spreadsheet (attached) to give you a rough indication of payback, etc, under different assumptions.  All you have to do is fill in a few boxes with your own data and it will do the calculations and show you the results: the year when your return goes positive (you’ve paid for the kit and any interest if you are borrowing to pay for the kit), the year when you will have paid back a loan (if taking one), the net return after 25years, and a simple bar chart showing the total net return by year.

The boxes have data already in place to represent one possible scenario and you may change these as you wish.  Running the spreadsheet with different data is interesting.

If you are considering getting a loan to pay for the kit and installation then we have been advised that www.lendology.org.uk are currently offering a loan at 4.2% and in a way that will have no impact on your credit rating : you might like to explore this (in the box about rate of interest we have entered 4.2%, but you can change this). Some mortgage lenders may also offer favourable terms.

Please note that any return on your investment will also be subject to many other considerations such as where the panels go, the angle at which they are able to be installed, family electricity average use (we have used data from our real examples).  We have assumed that if the house is empty all of the working day then it uses 80% of the electricity generated and used by a home occupied all day.  So, please take the results from the spreadsheet as indicative only. They are based on a 4kW installation facing south.

In order to use the spreadsheet you will need a computer with Microsoft Excel installed.

For those familiar with spreadsheets, you can unhide the calculations worksheet if you wish.

The spreadsheet is only an aid to give a measure of possible investment outcome, and other issues such as planning will need to be addressed. Registering an interest will give time to consider these.

Please feel free to pass this note and the spreadsheet to others who are not MCLT members.

If you have questions, please contact Tony Kerr: tony.kerr@communitylandtrust.org 

The MCLT Energy Working Group: Tony Kerr, Jim Brookes, Dan Smith, Colin Eden, Geoff Greenwood, Antony Nolan, Bill Gethin, Phil Padfield, Howard Finnegan.                                        

18/10/23                                                             

MCLT Update August 2022

MCLT Updates

1.         Affordable Housing Scheme at Garston Farm

 Key Points

  • 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.

Recent Challenges

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.

Next steps

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

Key points

  • 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.

Background

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.

Feasibility Study

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.

What next

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. 

Contacts

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: jim.brookes@marshfieldclt.org), Tony Kerr (Project leader: tony.kerr@marshfieldclt.org ), Colin Eden, Geoff Greenwood, Anthony Nolan, Dan Smith.

MCLT Board

Christine Eden (chair: christine.eden@marshfieldclt.org) Oliver Shirley (vice -chair), Vicky Williams (Secretary), Simon Turner (Treasurer), Jim Brookes, Ian Dawes, Ian Jones, Ros Snow.

August 2022

SGC Local Plan Phase 2 Consultation response

South Gloucestershire Council are currently on a phase 2 consultation on the local plan. This is significant as it will set the framework for planning in Marshfield for the next 20 years. The consultation closes on 4th April.

The full documentation is quite extensive and Marshfield CLT will be responding to relevant sections. Our initial response has been circulated to members and can be found here: https://marshfieldclt.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/MCLT-SGC-Local-Plan-Phase-2-Response-2022.pdf