Plans to retrofit Council Homes in Lewes District

Suzy Nelson reports for Lewes Climate Hub on Lewes District Council’s plans for retrofitting Council homes to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and improve energy efficiency.


This March, Lewes District Council heard the good news that its bid for a government grant to decarbonise the District’s Council homes was successful. As well as this £2 million grant from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF), the Council will be investing £2.7 million from its major works programme. So, I asked Councillor Mark Slater, Lewes District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing (pictured), how this money is going to be used.

Prioritising reductions to tenants’ bills

The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund is intended for improving the energy efficiency of the least energy-efficient homes in the UK (those with Energy Performance Certificates from D to G), making the homes of social-housing tenants cheaper to heat.

Following discussions with local housing associations, Lewes District Council has decided not to go for ‘deep retrofit’. This would maximise energy savings but cost in the region of £60,000 per property. As the Council has 3,250 homes, funding such extensive retrofits is not feasible. It has therefore decided to prioritise improvements that will reduce tenants’ bills and avoid works that would involve major disruption.

The Council has been consulting tenants about what these priorities should be. As the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund grant needs to be spent by April 2026, its property service is working with Trustmark registered partners to draw up a programme of works. This, says Councillor Slater, will include installing triple-glazed windows, draught-proofing, insulating cavity walls and improving ventilation, as well as installing solar panels.

Debbie Twitchen and David Nicholson of Tenants of Lewes District

Coordinating with repair works

An assessment of the condition of Council housing stock has highlighted the need for major repairs (leading to the annual major works programme being increased from £5 million to £6.5 million per year). Councillor Slater explained that as a further economy, energy-saving improvements will be planned in conjunction with any repair works. For example, replacing roof coverings will be done before installing photovoltaic solar panels and can use the same scaffolding.

Not all LDC’s social housing stock will be upgraded this time around. The Council will be applying for future SHDF funding and is keen to develop the supply chain for implementing retrofits and to work with other local authorities to develop a consortium. Hopefully this will allow consortium members to benefit from economies of scale and get the optimal terms to achieve their housing retrofit ambitions. We’ll look to keep you posted on how these plans develop.




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