COWICK NEWSLETTER | Energy efficient properties in Cowick

Not everything I write for the newsletter actually ends up in the newsletter:

Back in 2011, when he first stood for election in Cowick, Cllr Paul Bull noticed an empty property on Newman Road.

“I looked very run-down and in need of some loving care. I wondered why it had fallen into this state of repair.”

Paul found that the empty property was a Laings’ Easi-Form building, and there were 2 other examples of this non-conventional construction type were laying empty in Cowick.

PB + HM | Outside 47 Newman Road
Cllr Paul Bull and Cllr Heather Morris outside 57 Newman Road in 2012

“I found out that they were in need of varying amounts of structural repair, and up until then, ECC Housing Department would normally transfer this type of stock to Sovereign Housing Association, who had easier access to grants to bring them up to a habitable standard. But those grants were become harder to get”

Paul was becoming frustrated. “I was sitting on committees approving an Empty Homes Strategy, yet in my own ward I knew there were 3 such properties, and these had been empty for some time.”

The issue of refurbishing these Laing Easiform properties was discussed by Exeter City Council’s Executive on 03 July 2012, where they agreed ECC would retain ownership of the remaining 21 properties and keep the income and the repairing obligations associated with ownership. This option would require a total refurbishment investment by the Council of at least £1.58m, which would be increased if any of the properties were able to have extensions. This expenditure would need to be funded from the HRA but it would only be payable as and when the Laings homes became vacant and refurbished

As a result of pressure from Paul and his co-councillor Heather Morris, ECC looked at new and innovative ways to restore and refurbish the properties.

Three years on, the properties are now occupied and were recently shortlisted as Best Energy Efficient Building Scheme in the prestigious Green Energy Awards 2014 organised by Regen SW.

Paul says: “I am always keen to promote green initiatives and the conversions of these 3 properties have put my green ideals into practice.

“Before work started these properties were very poor in terms of energy efficiency. Through a range of measures brought together in the refurbishment, they are now new homes with high levels of insulation that will be more economic to occupy.”

Paul concludes: I am pleased that the refurbishment of these properties has been recognised nationally and acts as a replicable pilot for other housing stock of similar construction type in Cowick and elsewhere.”

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