• Richard Gawthorpe

    Group Business Development Director

Richard Gawthorpe, Group Business Development Director, discusses how The Six Street Initiative can lead to impactful change, and how collaboration and innovative thinking can make the difference.

Faced with the challenge of climate change and achieving net zero, Norse Group, in collaboration with Brentwood Borough Council and Rochford District Council, part of the South Essex Councils grouping (SEC), has embarked on an ambitious journey. Our collective goal? To assess and improve the energy efficiency of housing stock through decarbonisation and retrofit initiatives. This is not just a project aimed at environmental improvement; it’s a multifaceted endeavour that promises to enrich the lives of local residents and alleviate the burden not just on local authorities but on other parts of the public sector, such as the NHS, which annually spends an estimated £1.3 billion due to issues arising from cold and damp homes.

At the heart of this initiative lies a recognition of the practical limitations inherent in such a vast undertaking. Transforming all 30,000 homes, many of which are in poor condition, is a daunting task. Addressing this, Jonathan Stephenson, CEO of Brentwood and Rochford Councils, through SEC, has devised a phased approach. The strategy, known as The Six Streets, involves each of the six councils in SEC selecting one street as a pilot project. These pilots serve as a model for transforming housing stock into energy-efficient homes, thereby improving living conditions.

Norse Group’s contribution is a versatile blueprint designed for The Six Streets retrofit programme, a model adaptable to a variety of retrofit and decarbonisation projects. This blueprint spans five stages, each critical to the project’s success:

Strategic Vision (RIBA Stage 0): Here, councils lay down their overarching goals, objectives, and strategies focusing on climate change, decarbonisation, and retrofit, including considerations of methods, sustainability targets, and community impact.

Assessment and Prioritisation (RIBA Stage 1): This involves gathering essential data on homes to inform decision-making and prioritisation, considering factors such as building age, energy efficiency, and socio-economic aspects.

Feasibility (RIBA Stage 2): At this stage, feasibility studies are conducted to evaluate financial, technological, and logistical aspects, setting the stage for detailed development.

Design and Delivery (RIBA Stage 2-6): This encompasses detailed design, securing statutory approvals, procurement, and the successful execution of the project.

In Operation (RIBA Stage 7): The final stage involves implementing maintenance plans, monitoring, evaluation strategies, and measuring outcomes in terms of energy savings and carbon reduction.

The ultimate vision of The Six Streets initiative extends beyond the confines of the SEC’s projects. It aspires to share its benefits across England’s 150 local authorities which own housing stock. The aim is to transform these into energy-efficient homes, building a collective knowledge base and generating momentum in the transformation of housing stock.

This project stands as a beacon of sustainable development and social welfare. It not only addresses the pressing issue of climate change but also improves the quality of life for residents. By enhancing the energy efficiency of homes, the initiative promises to reduce healthcare costs associated with poor living conditions, presenting a win-win situation for both the environment and for public health.

I am proud to play a part in this partnership with Brentwood, Rochford, and the other SEC councils. I believe that it represents a progressive stride towards a sustainable future; and it showcases how collaborative effort, strategic planning, and innovative thinking can lead to impactful changes. As this initiative progresses through its various stages, it holds the potential to become a model for other councils across the nation, spearheading a movement towards a greener, healthier, and more sustainable living environment for all.