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09 February 2017

£20m funding for Innovative Housing Solutions

Community Housing Cymru (CHC) has welcomed news that Welsh Government will invest £20m in innovative new homes.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant, announced the funding today (9 February) at the Innovative Housing Conference in Cardiff - a joint event between CHC, Welsh Government and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).

This investment follows the announcement of the ground-breaking Housing Supply Pact struck between Welsh Government, CHC and WLGA to deliver 20,000 homes over a five-year period. Welsh housing associations have committed to delivering at least 12,500 homes.

The new innovative and sustainable homes will help to significantly reduce or eliminate fuel bills and will inform Welsh Government about the type of homes it should support in the future.

Community Housing Cymru’s Chief Executive, Stuart Ropke, said: “CHC welcomes this latest investment by Welsh Government into innovative solutions for the housing crisis in Wales. Housing solutions need to be flexible so that the sector can continue to provide a wide range of options for more people. Funding from this programme will help turn aspirations into delivery. The sector is up for the challenges set out in the Housing Supply Pact announced last December and we will continue to work with Welsh Government and WLGA to meet the 20,000 affordable homes target.”

Communities and Children Secretary Carl Sargeant said: “The housing sector in Wales is facing many challenges. We know we need to build more homes, quickly. We know the homes we build have to be cheaper to heat, more environmentally friendly and more capable of responding to the demographic challenges ahead. Just increasing the number of homes we build isn’t enough. Building homes that are great places to live and good for our planet is what I want. We need to start looking at more innovation, at homes that can be built faster as panels in factories or whole units delivered to site on lorries. We need to look at what homes are made from and what else they offer in terms of fuel bills, carbon emissions, jobs. This is a big challenge but it’s possible.”

WLGA’s spokesperson for housing, Councillor Dyfed Edwards, said: “Local authorities have a full role to play in enabling and delivering the homes we need across Wales, and it is important that with this increased focus and investment in housing we do not miss the opportunity to explore new models of housing that deliver more efficient and affordable homes.”

As well as the keynote speech from the Cabinet Secretary, the Innovative Housing Conference will hear from a range of speakers including Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, and experts in innovative housing such as Glen Peters from Western Solar who built Wales’ first solar village in Pembrokeshire.

Case studies:

Hafod Housing Association

Hafod Housing Association was the first housing association in Wales to move its tenants into environmentally-neutral homes. Hafod’s properties in the Broadlands development in Bridgend are innovative ‘PassivHaus’ designs which hold the highest possible environmental standard. The houses are airtight with extra insulation to provide superior thermal performance that removes the need for a traditional heating system. This means they can be heated and cooled very easily, reducing carbon emissions and energy bills. Hafod was awarded the Quality Approved PassivHaus certificate from the Building Research Establishment for the two properties, which were built in 2011 by local contractor Holbrook Construction, but now owned and managed by the housing association.

United Welsh

Larch House in Ebbw Vale was the UK’s first ever affordable zero carbon Passivhaus. Built as a prototype social housing for the 2010 National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale, United Welsh and partners Blaenau Gwent Council, bere:architects and Pendragon Design and Build, worked collaboratively to showcase the Passivhaus concept, with the support of BRE and Welsh Government. The roof of Larch House is fitted with photovoltaic solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity, providing 2800 kilowatt hours per year. It is also fitted with a solar thermal system that supplies approximately 60% of the home’s annual hot water requirements. In 2012, Nyree Jones, her husband Anthony and daughters Shannon-Lee and Demi won a competition to live in Larch House.