National award for Harold Wilson Court

Release Date: 21-Jul-2014
A newly refurbished block of flats in Huddersfield has won a prestigious national housing award.
The flats were officially opened in February

The flats were officially opened in February

Harold Wilson Court on Leeds Road was one of three schemes shortlisted for a National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) award for “managing energy efficiency and fuel poverty.” The winners were announced last week during the NFA’s annual conference in Manchester.

The year-long renovation of the former Richmond Flats was carried out by Clugston Construction Ltd and designed by Watson Batty architects, working with Kirklees Council and KNH. It involved the complete remodeling of the individual flats as well as major changes to the structure of the 11-storey tower block.

As well as making the flats welcoming, safe and comfortable, helping reduce living costs by improving the flats’ energy efficiency was also a fundamental part of the renovation, as the flats had previously been very difficult and expensive to heat. As part of the remodel, the team used “Passivhaus” standards to ensure that the flats would be as energy efficient as possible.

New energy efficient boilers and panel heaters, as well as heat exchangers that recover up to 95% of what would normally be wasted heat, have transformed the flats and the lives of their residents. Combined with LED lighting, triple glazed windows and thermal insulation inside and out, these measures are resulting in much lower energy bills. Solar panels on the roof provide electricity for communal lighting and lifts, so there are no communal utility charges. As a result, tenants report spending less than £40 a month on their utility bills and rarely had to turn on their heating this winter.

Other measures, such as pre-tenancy workshops and a local lettings plan that gives priority to people in work or training are also helping make sure that the flats are a great place to live.

According to the judges, this was “an ambitious project, taking an impressive Passivhaus approach to improvement – a flagship example.”

The project was funded through the Council’s Housing Revenue Account and the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007-13 as part of the BIG Energy Upgrade programme - a new approach to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Now in their eighth year, the NFA Awards showcase the best people and projects that are helping to improve social housing for tenants across England.

Cabinet member for Place and local ward councillor, Peter McBride, said: ““One of the Council’s objectives is to encourage more quality accommodation in the town centre, and Harold Wilson Court is a great example of this.

“We already knew from our tenants that the project has been a great success and one that has made a positive difference to people’s lives, but to have this kind of national recognition is a real bonus and helps confirm that we took the right approach.”

Sue Roberts MBE, NFA Chair, said: “I've always said that the ALMO sector is doing some incredibly innovative and outstanding work and the 2014 NFA Awards finalists are helping to prove just that. Some of the examples of the ways in which ALMOs from across England are working now, shows the very best about what this sector is all about - celebrating tenant involvement and making a real difference to people's lives."

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