A visit to the Jubilee Fields Estate with Livin and local MPs

Earlier this month NHC’s Tracy Harrison and Brian Robson joined Chief Executive at Livin Alan Boddy and his team to meet with local MPs Paul Howell (Sedgefield) and Dehenna Davison (Bishop Auckland) at Livin’s Jubilee Fields Estate in Shildon, County Durham.

The purpose of the visit was to provide the local MPs with an overview of placemaking and decarbonisation plans at the Jubilee Fields Estate and demonstrate the links between Livin’s place making and the Government’s Levelling Up agendas.

The Jubilee Fields Estate scheme is providing £9 million of physical regeneration, attracting £735,000 of Homes England Funding. It is part of Livin’s placemaking approach, which brings together the local community, partners and stakeholders to address estate wide issues through a range of interventions including: physical changes to houses, environmental improvements, community cohesion activities, employability support, money advice, and sustainability measures. These homes will be made more energy efficient and economical to heat and will make a positive contribution to Livin’s target to achieve net zero in its operations by 2050.

Through extensive engagement with tenants, residents, owners, private landlords and stakeholders, designs have been agreed that transform the appearance of the area including: introducing private garden spaces; providing allocated parking; converting unwanted flats into spacious family homes; and creating an improved estate layout.

The local MPs heard about Livin’s extensive community development activity, partnership working and business planning as part of the scheme.

Livin contributed to, and helped sponsor, the recently launched ‘No Place Left Behind’ report produced by the Create Streets Foundation which is strongly urging the Government to consider the bottom up approach of empowering communities and placemaking alongside the ‘top down’ approach of investing in capital infrastructure and decarbonisation within the Levelling Up programme.  The report makes several recommendations to the Government, including recommending housing regeneration and decarbonisation support which ties in with Livin’s ‘stronger communities’ ethos especially concerning neighbourhood regeneration and the retrofit decarbonisation agendas.

The visit included a tour of The Courts, Maple and Firtree estate and the Chestnut Close Communal Lounge, participants learnt about the different plans for each area and the levels of support being provided to the community.

Commenting, Dehenna Davison MP said “A huge thank you to the Livin team for having Paul Howell MP and me in Shildon to see their placemaking plans for the upcoming regeneration at The Courts. This is a really exciting regeneration project and I can’t wait to come back next year to see the work in progress.”

The NHC is keen to work with members to demonstrate the contribution housing in the North is making to levelling-up and net zero. If you would like the NHC’s support with a visit or meeting, please contact Anna Seddon (Policy and Public Affairs Officer) at anna.seddon@northern-consortium.org.uk.

Using brownfield housing funds to boost levelling-up

One of the most encouraging announcements at this year’s Spending Review was the £1.8bn to help deliver homes on brownfield sites. This consists of £300m for locally led projects and a further £1.5bn for housing infrastructure. The NHC has consistently backed the existing £400m brownfield housing fund – £276m of which was allocated directly to Northern local authorities – and called for its extension in our Spending Review representation.

The announcement of new funds presents a great chance to boost levelling-up. Housing on brownfield sites can deliver on many of the Government’s levelling-up priorities: restoring pride by tackling eyesore sites, creating opportunity through jobs in remediation and construction, and boosting living standards by creating new homes for sale and rent that cost less to run. If the funds are structured in the right way, they can empower local leaders and communities to get homes built on sites that make sense in the context of local economic opportunities.

So where are these sites, and how should the fund be structured?

Analysis of brownfield registers for the NHC’s Northern Housing Monitor finds over 5,000 sites across the North, of over 7,500 hectares: which together could generate over 300,000 homes –more than a city the size of Leeds. This land can’t meet all the North’s diverse housing needs, but can make an important contribution to housing supply and levelling-up.

Three-quarters of this Northern brownfield housing capacity – over 230,000 homes worth – is located in districts covered by Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCA). That’s why we think it’s important that the new funds have a strong MCA component. Recognising that these areas have already benefitted from the first round of the Fund, we think something like 2/3 of the new funding should be allocated through MCAs. The current Fund has made a real difference in MCA areas across the Northit’s clear that it’s working. Let’s empower local leaders to get more done.

For councils outside MCA arrangements, there has been a national brownfield release fund run on a competitive basis by One Public Estate (OPE). However less than 10% of the funding allocated to date from OPE for brownfield land has come to the North, and almost half of this (£2.4m) was for a single site in the City of York. Four other districts in the North also accessed this funding, but other NHC members tell us they deterred by restrictions on how this fund could be accessed and used.

NHC analysis suggests almost 20% of the North’s brownfield housing capacity – space for 60,000 homes – is located in local authorities which have not so far been able to access either MCA or OPE brownfield funding. These places need a solution, and that’s why the NHC think that – alongside direct funding for MCA areas – there needs to be an accessible route for Northern councils outside MCA arrangements to access funding to cover the additional costs associated with developing on brownfield land, such as remediation and demolition.

We’re also keen to press the case for a revenue element to funding. Every brownfield site is different, and progressing them needs attention from skilled staff, and lots of persistence and determination. With the North having lost half its local authority housing capacity since 2010, providing ‘boots on the ground’ will be an important part of a successful programme.

The NHC is engaging with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on this issue. There’s lots of technical detail to work through, but it’s also clear there’s a real opportunity to build on the success of the existing brownfield fund and use this fresh investment to boost levelling-up. Let’s do it.

Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Launched with Sector Roadshow

Meeting between July and September 2021, the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury brought together 30, randomly selected, social housing residents from across the North to learn about climate change and how to work towards net zero at the local level. In November 2020, the Jury launched its report and recommendations to the sector; their views, as social housing tenants, as to how tenants, social landlords, and other place-based organisations can work together to tackle climate change in our homes and neighbourhoods.

The Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury was commissioned by the Northern Housing Consortium in partnership with five housing associations: First Choice Homes Oldham, Karbon Homes, Salix Homes, Thirteen Group, and Yorkshire Housing.

Below is a summary of the events the Social Housing Tenants Climate Jury has been profiled at.


Official Launch: Northern Housing Summit 2021

The Jury’s final report and recommendations was launched at the Northern Housing Consortium’s flagship Northern Housing Summit. The agenda saw Nick Atkin, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Housing and Donna Cezair, Chief Executive of First Choice Homes Oldham, discuss why their organisations decided to support the Jury project and how they plan to work with the group’s recommendations. They were joined by Jenny Osbourne, Chief Executive of TPAS, and Rashidah Owoseni, Customer Committee member, Salix Homes who discussed their role on the project’s Oversight Panel and how that group worked to ensure the Jury was fair, balanced, and focussed on the tenant experience of retrofit.

Alongside the launch of the report, Summit attendees were also the first to see a video produced telling the story of the Jury as told by the tenant Jury members themselves. This video can be viewed here:


The panel session discussing the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury, alongside other speakers and breakout sessions including key note addresses by Government Ministers Lord Callanan, Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility, and Eddie Hughes MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, can be viewed here:



Tenant Launch: 11th National Tenant Panel Conference

The Northern Housing Consortium and Tenant Advisor’s National Tenant Panel Conference is one of two resident-centric events in the NHC calendar. This year the session provided a brilliant opportunity for the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury to speak directly to fellow-residents to discuss how to make retrofit as much as possible a collaborative effort between landlord and tenant.

Presentations from the 11th National Tenant Panel Conference can be viewed here:



PreCop26 All4Climate – Italy 2021

All4Climate formed part of Italy’s work in their role as joint-Presidents of COP26, the United Nations climate summit that recently took place in Glasgow this November. Convened by the Italian Ministry for Ecological Transition, All4Climate aims to bring together climate champions around the world to foster proactive dialogue on the challenges of the climate crisis and deliver on the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

As part of the official program of roundtables, the NHC and partners involved in the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury will hold a meeting offering a first look at the project which placed tenants at the centre of answering the question “how can tenants’, landlords, and others work together to tackle climate change in our homes and neighbourhoods”.

Given All4Climate’s focus on young people and driving ambition, younger members of the Jury joined attendees to discuss their experience of the project. All are welcome to join the conversation and we hope the session will be of interest to both officers and residents looking to better understand how we can bring together the climate and tenant engagement agendas.

The Northern Housing Consortium’s session at All4Climate – Italy 2021, can be viewed here.


NEA Warm Week

The Northern Housing Consortium was delighted to discuss the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury at NEA Warm Week. As part of the session Social Housing Session: how to do more and make sure tenants are beneficiaries of decarbonisation the NHC joined speakers representing BEIS, IPPR North, and Parity Projects. NEA were core supporters of the Tenant Jury, with a representative on the project’s Oversight Panel and giving evidence to the Jury on the potential impact on the consumer of the energy transition.

The session explored what needs to be done to improve social housing, how tenants can be engaged to get the most out of schemes and property improvements, and what needs to be done to maximise the benefits of decarbonisation for social housing tenants.

The webinar, and all sessions held as part of NEA Warm Week can be viewed here:



TPAS Net Zero Week

The NHC also welcomed the opportunity to discuss the Tenants’ Climate Jury as one-part of the wider good work being undertaken across the sector to increase the tenant voice when it comes to tackling climate change through housing retrofit. This was again a collaboration with another important stakeholder in the Jury project, with Jenny Osbourne, Chief Executive of TPAS representing the Tenant Voice agenda on the Jury Oversight Panel.

Sessions that were held as part of TPAS Net Zero week included How do we lead our Organisations to Net Zero, Demystifying the Technology, and Net Zero Carbon – What’s the politics?.

Further information on TPAS Net Zero Week can be found here:



Parity Projects – Pathways User Group

Although a project focussed on Social Housing tenants in the North of England, the Tenant’s Climate Jury project holds relevant lessons for all those working to make retrofit a resident-centred process across all tenures. Here the Northern Housing Consortium joined Parity Projects and 58 Local Authorities across England to discuss the Jury’s relevance to mixed-neighbourhood decarbonisation. Joining colleagues from BEIS also on the agenda, discussion centred around the role of data in conveying the success of retrofit projects and ensuring green neighbourhoods are resilient against future adaptation needs.


More to Come!

Also included in this edition of NHC Member News is details of the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Webinar Series. Across five sessions, the webinar series aims to highlight the build on the Jury’s final report, exploring the recommendations and the issues raised. Expert speakers, including commentators who originally gave ‘evidence’ to the Jury, will discuss examples of what the group felt represented good practice in decarbonising homes as well as the wider implications of retrofit and climate change the Jury highlighted as core concerns.

To learn more about the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Webinar series, the topics to be discussed, and importantly how to confirm your attendance, click here.



Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury Webinar Series: “Let’s Take Action and Act Together”

The Northern Housing Consortium has announced the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury webinar series. The series is designed to build on the Tenants’ Climate Jury project which ran from July – September 2021, exploring the recommendations the Jury produced and the issues raised. Across five different sessions expert speakers, including commentators who originally gave ‘evidence’ to the Jury, will discuss examples of what the group felt represented good practice in decarbonising homes as well as the wider implications of retrofit and climate change the Jury highlighted as core concerns.

The Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury brought together 30 social housing residents, randomly selected, from across the North to learn about climate change and how to work towards net zero at the local level. In November 2020, the Jury launched its report and recommendations to the sector; their views, as social housing tenants, as to how tenants, social landlords, and other place-based organisations can work together to tackle climate change in our homes and neighbourhoods.

Around ¼ of the North’s carbon emissions come from our existing homes and to meet the challenge of net zero, over 1million social rented sector homes across the North will require retrofit measures. Northern Housing Consortium members know that tackling climate change is as much a tenant engagement issue as an asset management consideration, and that a positive resident experience is a central contributory factor to the long-term success of retrofit works.

Commissioned by the NHC alongside First Choice Homes Oldham, Karbon Homes, Salix Homes, Thirteen Group, and Yorkshire Housing; the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury was designed to bring tenants into the heart of this discussion.

The Jury’s work is brought together in this final report and series of 19 recommendations. Over ten weeks, and 30 hours of deliberation, the Jury heard from and discussed climate change with invited experts from organisations like The Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, National Energy Action, and representatives from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The Jury were also able to question Lord Callanan, Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility, as part of the process.

The detailed recommendations contain a number of practical suggestions to the sector as well as longer term ambitions to ensure social housing leads on tackling climate change through good quality retrofit programmes and creating greener healthier neighbourhoods.

They underline the sense of urgency felt by the group, an emphasis on ensuring high standards, a need to develop considered retrofit strategies over the medium-longer term, suggestions as to how communication can be made more honest and transparent, how the sector can be upfront on costs both now and in the future, the value placed on collaboration and pooling risk and reward, and finally how the sector as a whole, both tenants landlord officers, can improve its knowledge on both renewable heating technology and climate change more broadly.

Details of each session, including a link to register your attendance, can be found below.


The Cost of Retrofit and the Energy Transition:

Wednesday 26th January, 14.00 – 15.30

The Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury identified retrofit as not just a potentially disruptive process in of itself but the source of various financial questions tenants have that if gone unanswered can cause confusion and anxiety.

Government funding is available for the installation of works but won’t cover every home, what other funding or income streams are available and how will this information be communicated to tenants? Equally, as homes move onto renewable heating sources, is the wider energy transition ready to keep electricity affordable? And most importantly when, if ever, will tenants to called upon to contribute through their rent?

This session will explore the financial considerations of retrofit and the energy grid’s move towards renewables with a specific focus on the potential impact on tenants.


Retrofit Standards & Accreditation: Towards Getting it Right First Time

Wednesday 15th February 2022, 14.00 – 15.30

As part of the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury discussions were held with residents who had lived experience of their home being retrofitted. Both positive and negative experiences were heard about the quality of installation.

This session will explore the Jury’s desire to see the sector ‘get it right first time’ when it comes to housing retrofit. A series of speakers will discuss the current accreditation regime for retrofit works and case studies will be given from across the NHC membership. Presentations will be given covering projects achieving the highest standards but also how communication is key when certain properties demand an alternative approach.


The Resident-Centric Retrofit Journey

Wednesday 2nd March 2022, 14.00 – 15.30

From the beginning the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury prioritised conveying how retrofit works impact tenants in the most practical sense; how tenants first learn of energy efficiency and renewable heating technology, how long installation takes, what happens to and in the home, what measures (e.g. insulation and heat pumps) look like and where are they actually installed, what it means for how the home is heated following installation, and how tenants will adapt their heating use in their day-to-day lives.

This session will bring together good practice from customer-centric retrofit projects across all tenures. Speakers will discuss good practice in first introducing renewable heating technology to tenants and how residents are supported to ensure new heating systems are used as intended. Presentations will also focus on how planning, coordination, and communication can work towards managing and mitigating disruptions to tenants’ lives.


Expanding Climate Education in Social Housing: Carbon Literacy Amongst Officers and Tenants

Wednesday 16th March 2022, 14.00 – 15.30

 The Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury felt strongly that the knowledge they had gained in earlier sessions on climate change played a contributing role to their understanding on the need to retrofit homes. The Jury would like to see the sector explore ways that this kind of knowledge can be spread as widely as possible to both tenants and officers.

This session will explore the ways in which landlords are communicating with their tenants on why retrofit works are taking place, and how they can be part of the process. Themes will include choosing the correct medium to convey the message, ensuring no one is left behind in receiving this information, and how as a whole a proactive and knowledgeable sector can showcase the best of the social housing sector.


Retrofit to Regeneration: Tackling Climate Change and Building Communities

Wednesday 30th March 2022, 14.00 – 15.30

 As well as discussing climate science and the decarbonisation of existing properties, the Social Housing Tenants’ Climate Jury also considered ways in which housing retrofit can be one part of a move to make their neighbourhoods more environmentally friendly, happier, and healthier places. The Jury identified tackling climate change in homes and neighbourhoods as a way of bringing all place-based agencies together and improve collaboration.

This session will offer examples of projects that can complement housing retrofit work and transform whole neighbourhoods. Speakers will also discuss the Jury’s desire to see outdoor and communal spaces used to improve not just the environment but our health and ability to socialise with each other; net zero as community building.



Regulation – Call for Evidence

A parliamentary committee has announced an inquiry into social housing regulation, with a Call for evidence on quality of social housing, effectiveness of regulation and on SHWP proposals

Call for Evidence – Committees – UK Parliament

As you can see from the link, the call for evidence is around the following key questions:

  • How widespread and serious are the concerns about the quality of social housing?
  • What is the impact on social housing providers’ resources, and therefore their ability to maintain and improve their housing stock, of the need to remediate building safety risks and retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient?
  • Is the current regime for regulating social housing fit for purpose?
  • How clearly defined are the roles of the Regulator of Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman?
  • Does the current regime allow tenants to effectively resolve issues?
  • Do the regulator and ombudsman have sufficient powers to take action against providers?
  • Will the reforms proposed in the social housing White Paper improve the regime and what progress has been made on implementing those reforms?
  • What changes, if any, should the Government make to the Decent Homes Standard?
  • Should the Decent Homes Standard be amended to include energy efficiency and other means of mitigating climate change, and if so how?
  • Should all providers of social housing, not just councils, be required to register with the regulator?
  • What challenges does the diversification of social housing providers pose for the regulatory system?

The NHC is intending to submit a response to the Call for evidence before the due date of the 21st December, and it would be good to get feedback from you to ensure that our response reflects your views. If you have any comments or responses to the above questions, please contact Nigel Johnston (nigel.johnston@northern-consortium.org.uk). To allow us to collate responses, we would appreciate comments by the 13th December 2021.

Community is key to a new story on regeneration

Guest blog by Rachael Orr, CEO of PlaceShapers

Whenever I spend time with a PlaceShaper member CEO I always ask, “what’s the one thing PlaceShapers could try and do to make your job easier?” One of the most interesting, and challenging answers I’ve ever had was three years ago, from a London based CEO: “you could stop ‘regeneration’ being a dirty word.”

It’s a good job I never promise I can deliver on that one thing. But I do think the policy environment in the last year is charting the path to helping him with this challenge.

If we are to win the argument that regeneration is central to levelling up, to restoring so many so called ‘left behind’ places, indeed to de-toxifying the term, then central to our case are the stories of great people, much loved places and prioritising often overlooked social infrastructure as highly as we do physical infrastructure.

I was fortunate to serve as a Commissioner this year on the Commission on Prosperity and Community Placemaking. Its final report, No Place Left Behind, made a number of recommendations about how we can better trust communities to lead change in the places they love – for example a mass transfer of ownership of empty shops, buildings and public spaces to communities and local businesses, through a new Community Right to Buy.

But what also stood out for me was the role of housing associations in supporting these community organisations to deliver their work, and to scale their reach and ambition. In so many places the catalyst for growth, the organisation willing to take on some of the risk, was a place based social landlord. They build homes yes, but their role in supporting social infrastructure, from libraries to youth clubs, may be just as pivotal in making the case for regeneration that works.

Place-based social landlords are experts on the place they work. Their staff and residents are the local communities. They know what they need to make places better, from mixed tenure housing to new parks and community centres.

So as civil servants continue to ponder if there is a positive future for regeneration policy, I think they need to do three things.

Firstly, they need to ensure any regeneration scheme starts with local communities and anchor organisations with a seat at the table when decisions are made, not just when the consultation phase on already agreed plans begins.

Secondly, they need to prioritise investment in social infrastructure far more highly – in line with what communities say they need.

And finally, we need a new role for Homes England, who should be empowered to employ more staff and make more decisions at a regional level, reviewing their remit to focus on regeneration and long term placemaking and allocating long term funding to allow housing associations and others to drive regeneration and renewal in homes and neighbourhoods.

In communities across the country, we have the experts on regeneration, and they are showing and telling a new possible story. Now we need to trust them, support them and deliver what they know they need.