Here is Sustainable St Albans’ response to Harpenden Town Council’s Capital Receipt Survey

Background

  • Harpenden Town Council sought suggestions for the use of a Capital Receipt of £2.65m.
  • Proposals:
    • Must be for capital expenditure (acquiring or making improvements to assets such as land, buildings, equipment etc)
    • Must relate to public land/assets 
    • Should not involve significant ongoing running costs
  • The proposal submitted by Sustainable St Albans has been put forward following a discussion group held by Our Planet Our Future, the Harpenden-based Sustainable St Albans project.  This was submitted by the deadline of 31 January 2020.

Summary

Sustainable St Albans proposed that the Capital Receipt should be used to make Harpenden into a Low Carbon Town as per the Environment and Sustainable Design Vision of the Harpenden Neighbourhood Plan: Develop Harpenden as a sustainable and low carbon town.”

Sustainable St Albans response is below and the pdf is here.


Sustainable St Albans submission to the Harpenden Town Council Capital Receipt Survey – January 2020

Summary – creating the Zero Carbon Harpenden Fund

Sustainable St Albans is pleased to submit its proposal for the use of Harpenden Town Council’s Capital Receipt. At a district, county and country level a Climate Emergency has been declared; this is the most significant issue that will impact the current residents of Harpenden and particularly future generations of residents.

Harpenden has a unique opportunity with this capital receipt and we believe very strongly that the monies should be used to create a Zero Carbon Harpenden Fund to secure the development of Harpenden as the sustainable and low carbon town envisaged in the Harpenden Neighbourhood Plan.

1.  Creating the Zero Carbon Harpenden Fund

 The capital receipt should be used to create a Zero Carbon Harpenden Fund, from which capital is allocated only to projects that contribute to making Harpenden a sustainable, low carbon town; this links directly with the Environment and Sustainable Design Vision of the Harpenden Neighbourhood Plan (page 33).   The criteria for allocating funds from the Zero Carbon Harpenden Fund should be developed in collaboration with sustainability experts including representatives from the Environment and Sustainable Design Neighbourhood Plan Working Group.

The most significant toeprints of Harpenden’s carbon footprint are from buildings, transport and energy; the specific proposals in this response seek to address those areas.

The Zero Carbon Harpenden Fund should be used to fund capital projects, including to –

  • Retrofit current and planned public buildings to low carbon standards – Harpenden Town Council leading by example by,
    • providing top-up funding for the additional cost of building the 23 social homes to Passivhaus[1] Plus standard
    • providing funding to retrofit Batford Memorial Hall to Passivhaus Plus standard
  • Build a Community Centre and Hub for low carbon initiatives in central Harpenden to low or zero carbon Passivhaus Plus (or equivalent) standard
  • Reduce Harpenden’s carbon footprint by improving public land and buildings
  • Reduce Harpenden’s carbon footprint by improving transport
  • Match fund community capital projects that would contribute to making Harpenden a low carbon town

 Where initiatives can generate income (such as solar panel or wind generation) the surplus revenues should be added to the Zero Carbon Harpenden Fund and used to fund further projects.

 2. Retrofit current and planned public buildings to low carbon standards – Harpenden Town Council leading by example

 Retrofitting current buildings to low carbon standard is critical to reducing the carbon footprint of Harpenden.   Harpenden Town Council has the opportunity to lead by example with the new social homes that are to be built and by retrofitting a current publicly owned community centre, specifically,

a) Provide top-up funding for the additional cost of building the 23 social homes to Passivhaus[2] Plus standard, with a requirement that there are public and research open days during the build.

 The benefits of Passivhaus Plus standard social homes are –

  1. no/reduced heating/energy bills for residents who may otherwise suffer fuel poverty, because electricity generated from PV solar panels is free, and
  2. a healthy internal environment that is damp-free and with fewer atmospheric particulates that both contribute to respiratory illnesses – a growing financial and capacity burden on the NHS, and
  3. built to higher Building Regulation standards to withstand longer-term wear and tear, facilitating ‘lifetime homes’ policy aspirations.  The reduced requirement for repairs and/or rebuilding mitigate the build cost uplift to Passivhaus Standard.  In 2015 it cost c15-20%[3] more to build homes to this standard, by 2018 this had fallen to only c8%[4] more.   Passivhaus homes have been delivered extensively in the UK; appendix 1 gives a list of Local Government and Housing Associations that have delivered Passivhaus homes in the UK.

b) Provide funding to retrofit Batford Memorial Hall to Passivhaus Plus standard following the EnerPHit Retrofit Plan[5] and to install PV solar panels. This will reduce the energy costs significantly – both in terms of the carbon footprint and the financial cost.

3.  Build a Community Centre and Hub for low carbon initiatives in central Harpenden low or zero carbon Passivhaus Plus (or equivalent) standard.

 Part of the Fund should be used to build a community space in central Harpenden. Such a community centre would clearly need to be built on public land or using a current public building; options might include part of Rothamsted Park, a Park Hall extension or part of the Public Halls development.

This could either be run either as a social enterprise or be set up as a charity and run by a volunteer management committee (as is Batford Memorial Hall).

Successful models for social enterprise community centres can be seen in Edinburgh https://www.edinburghremakery.org.uk/ and Pembrokeshire https://www.facebook.com/ThePembrokeshireRemakery/and Brixton.

The community centre could provide:

  1. A library of things where residents could borrow items that they might otherwise only use rarely, a successful example is based in Crystal Palace[6]; this would reduce costs for residents as well as reducing landfill, and
  2. a repair cafe where tools, materials and expert volunteers help the public repair clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bikes, crockery, toys etc. Such a facility helps pass on the fast-fading repair skills held within the community, to encourage the ‘repair not replace’ mind-set required to help reduce carbon emissions from unnecessary consumption – https://repaircafe.org/en/about/, and
  3. a maker space as part of the repair café – somewhere that people could rent and use the repair café facilities for their own projects, a successful example of this is seen in Brighton with the Build Brighton[7] initiative, and
  4. refrigeration so that a food-share scheme could operate from the community centre and supermarkets could drop off fresh produce to be collected later (most existing local food-share schemes do not cater for fresh produce), and
  5. a local example of Passivhaus standard that could be used for education purposes for schools and residents, locally and nationally, and
  6. a space that would be available for groups of all ages to meet locally (particular teenagers) to improve the sense of community and place within Harpenden.

Recent Our Planet Our Future events in Harpenden have shown that there is very considerable interest in re-use and repair projects.

4. Reducing Harpenden’s carbon footprint by improving public land and building

Part of the Fund should be used to reduce Harpenden’s carbon footprint in relation to its public buildings and public land, and to encourage the use of green spaces, specifically to:

  • Install PV solar panels on public buildings to reduce fossil-fuel emissions and the financial costs to local taxpayers of public energy use (Neighbourhood Plan Objective ED09) and,
  • Install green roofs/walls[8] on public buildings to purify the air, reduce ambient temperature and encourage biodiversity (Neighbourhood Plan Policy ESD13 – Biodiversity; ESD19 – Water Conservation) and,
  • Erect wind power generation on public land to reduce fossil-fuel emissions and the financial costs to local taxpayers of community energy use (Neighbourhood Plan Objective ED09) and,
  • Install bat/swift boxes on public buildings to support wildlife biodiversity (Neighbourhood Plan Policy ESD13 – Biodiversity) and,
  • Install water fountains in public spaces to encourage the use of sustainable water carriers and reduce single-use plastic bottle pollution and,
  • Add Street Gyms to some Harpenden parks to encourage the adoption of healthier lifestyles that reduces the financial and capacity burden on the NHS (Neighbourhood Plan Policy SI4 – Provision of Sports and Leisure Facilities)
  • Designate some public land to community food growing initiatives (similar to FoodSmiles[9]) to help reduce carbon emissions from food miles and to growing more edible trees and create edible landscapes where possible.

5.  Reducing Harpenden’s carbon footprint by improving transport

Part of the Fund should be used to reduce Harpenden’s transport carbon footprint, to encourage cycling and walking, and to develop streets and social places that are pleasant to be in; specifically to:

a) Develop Streets as Social Spaces that are Pleasant to Be In by

  • putting in place Healthy Streets proposals – https://healthystreets.com/ (Neighbourhood Plan Policy ESD4 – Streets as Social Spaces that are Pleasant to Be In) and,
  • putting in place a 20 mile per hour speed limit throughout Harpenden (Neighbourhood Plan Policy ESD4 – Streets as Social Spaces that are Pleasant to Be In).

 b) Improving cycling routes in Harpenden and encourage cycling by

  • improving cycle routes in and through Harpenden including custom two-way cycleways to Wheathampstead and St Albans from Harpenden and paving parts of the Nicky Line that are difficult for cyclists, to promote low/no carbon emissions transport opportunities (and relieve pressure to park in the town centre) (Neighbourhood Plan Objective TM01) and,
  • building secure bike stands for electric and standard bikes (Neighbourhood Plan Objective TM02) and,
  • putting in charging points for electric bikes (Neighbourhood Plan Objectives TM01) and,
  • revising the white lines outside the Park Hall to improve safety for vehicles and cyclists.

c) Further reducing resident traffic and pollution in Harpenden by

  • Putting in charging points for electric cars (Neighbourhood Plan Policy T9) and,
  • Introducing smart parking in road sensors with an App so that residents can see where there are parking spaces in Harpenden (reduces driving around to find spaces and provides data) (supporting Harpenden Neighbourhood Plan Policy T10 – Parking in Harpenden Town Centre) and,
  • Installing CityTrees[10] to address the levels of pollution on key roads in Harpenden (particularly the Luton Road and Lower Luton Road).  Two of these have been successfully installed by Waltham Forest Council.  A CityTree is a free-standing outdoor air cleaning system that uses the power of biotechnology to emulate the pollution-reduction benefits of 275 urban trees.

d.  Further reducing traffic and pollution in Harpenden by

  • Working with an electric bike borrowing company (such as lime E[11]) to set up an electric bike borrowing scheme with bike parks on Luton Rd, Lower Luton Roads (and elsewhere) (Neighbourhood Plan Objective TM01) and,
  • Providing an edge-of-town, solar-panelled vehicle-charging hub where delivery lorries/vans can unload so that the ‘last mile’ delivery can be done by E-Cargo bikes.  There is a successful scheme in Stevenage, Box Bike Delivery[12] which does the last mile delivery on behalf of Yodel.  Zedify[13] also operate to provide the last mile of deliveries by bike or electric vehicle.

6.  Match fund community capital projects that would contribute to making Harpenden a low carbon town

Finally, part of the Zero Carbon Harpenden Fund should be set aside for match funding of community initiatives that were funded and promoted by Spacehive[14], thereby further leveraging the impact of the initial capital receipt.

Conclusion

 Sustainable St Albans would be happy to discuss this response with Harpenden Town Council to develop these proposals.

Sustainable St Albans

29th January 2020

Appendix 1: Local Government and Housing Associations that have delivered Passivhaus homes in the UK

(to support item 2 a iii)

Aster Homes Grwp Cynefin Orkney Housing Association
Bournemouth Borough Council Hastoe Group Plymouth City Council/Plymouth Community Homes
Bristol City Council Helena Partnerships Portsmouth City Council
Broadland Growth Ltd Hendre Housing Association Powys County Council
Broadland Housing Association Hereford Council Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council, Leicester County Council
Carmarthenshire Council Kingdom Housing Association Saxon Weald Housing Association
Cherwell District Council L&Q Housing Trust Shepherds Bush Housing Association
Circle Housing Group Leeds City Council Solon South West Housing Association
Crawley Borough Council London Borough of Camden South Shropshire Housing Association
Department of Social Care London Borough of Lambeth Southern Housing Group
Devon County Council London Borough of Tower Hamlets Swansea Council
East Devon District Council North Kesteven District Council Teign Housing Association
emh homes Norwich City Council Trustees of St John’s Lichfield Hospital
Exeter City Council Norwich Regeneration Ltd United Welsh Housing Association
Fareham Borough Council Oaklee Homes Group Wandsworth Borough Council
Freebridge Community Housing Fyne Homes Octavia Housing Warwickshire Rural Housing Association
Gentoo One Manchester Housing/R-gen Developments Ltd Wolverhampton City Council
Great Yarmouth Borough Council/Great Yarmouth Development Company Orbit Heart of England Yarlington Housing Association

 

[1] The standard from https://www.passivhaustrust.org.uk/  or equivalent

[2] The standard from https://www.passivhaustrust.org.uk/  or equivalent

[3] See page 11 of this research report sponsored by AECOM

https://www.passivhaustrust.org.uk/UserFiles/File/Technical%20Papers/150128%20PH%20Capital%20Costs.pdf

[4] https://www.passivhaustrust.org.uk/guidance_detail.php?gId=41#.XcleAmP7SUl.

[5] https://passivehouse.com/03_certification/02_certification_buildings/06_process/06_process.html

[6] https://libraryofthings.co.uk

[7] https://buildbrighton.com

[8] https://www.sempergreen.com/en/solutions/green-roofs/green-roof-benefits

[9] http://www.foodsmilesstalbans.org.uk

[10] https://walthamforest.gov.uk/content/waltham-forest-first-council-install-first-permanent-city-trees-london

[11] https://www.li.me/about-us

[12] “Box Bike Delivery is a Stevenage-based bike courier and delivery service. Operating from our base at Safestore on Argyle Way, Stevenage, we use bespoke Dutch e-assist cargo bikes and other smaller bikes to provide a range of services and delivery types. We recently began last-mile deliveries on behalf of Yodel, delivering parcels Mon-Sat in SG1; each one of these deliveries uses a cargo bike rather than a car or van, and is therefore free of pollutants and/or gases that can add to climate change.  We have also delivered organic veg boxes, dairy, meat and wine; flowers, post and parcels, medicines, legal documents, and exam papers. If you need your local deliveries to be handled carefully and delivered reliably then we can help you.”    http://boxbikedelivery.co.uk/index.html

[13] https://www.zedify.co.uk

[14] https://www.spacehive.com