Dear <<First Name>>,
Row of cartoon houses
Wirksworth Transition Community Land Trust

house in tree logo
Charity number 1178158
Newsletter 1 - Jan-Feb 2021

Link to our website.
In this issue
  • Welcome!
  • Green Homes Grants & our survey
  • What are other Community Land Trusts doing?
  • What is 'sweat equity'?
  • Are air source heat pumps the answer?
  • Local architects design near-zero-carbon buildings.

Welcome - here’s to a Happier New Year!

We are turning over a new leaf in 2021 – so watch out!  We decided that we shouldn’t use the pandemc as a reason not to engage more with our “stakeholders” who we would describe as:
  • Members and supporters
  • Potential tenants/shared owners
  • Local authority politicians and staff
  • Housing associations, housing professionals and house builders
Having failed so far to find land to build on, we are now looking for existing local property to retrofit to much higher energy efficiency standards  and to be available to residents in need at an affordable rent. We haven’t abandoned new pic of Wirksworthbuild – if an opportunity arises to work with a housing association on social housing, we will take it.
Retrofitting also presents challenges. All existing houses are different, so the first step is to look at the fabric and establish what needs to be done and whether the cost is feasible.
We know also that the government’s slowness in recognizing the climate emergency means that the necessary support for households and builders to undertake energy efficiency measures isn’t in place yet. If we can get more people involved, we could set up a local information and campaigning group to push for change.

We are setting up two new sub-groups, open to all members. One will be about retrofitting existing houses, to tackle fuel poverty. The other will be about providing information to the public, using our charitable objective of educating regarding the environment. 

We will organise two Zoom meetings to discuss the role of these groups. If you would like to be invited, please let us know on

Green Homes Grants - and our short survey!

Green Homes Grants are open for applications again
The Green Homes Grants Scheme, available from the end of September but only to the end of March 2021, has been extended for another year to March 2022, in response to the government realising that this year’s grant would hardly be spent because there are so few Trustmark registered builders, which is one of the requirements of the grant.
Since August 2020, we have been investigating why there are so few Trustmark builders, which takes us into the complicated arena of regulations. A new standard called PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 2035 has been developed, which covers the working process for carrying out quality retrofitting. It aims to be a solution to the variable quality of the small business construction industry in the newish field of domestic energy efficiency measures (EEMs).
The specification was brought into effect in June 2019 with a two-year transition, so it is not yet fully rolled out and is little pic of windowsknown and confusing. The coordinating bodies for this standard are Trustmark (Government Endorsed Quality) and several Scheme Providers.  Training for the new roles of retrofit specialists is still in its infancy. It is hard to keep track, because the situation is changing all the time!
Another obstacle to rolling out the new measures is the delay in changes to Building Regulations Part L 1B (covering the conservation of heat and power in existing domestic buildings) which were expected by the end of 2020. These changes begin the move to the even stricter Future Homes Standard expected in 2025, to make existing houses “zero carbon ready”. At present, builders comply with existing out-of-date regulations. To do work to a higher standard will cost more, but will only happen if the client chooses to pay more.
To help us build up local information about changes in this difficult area, we have created a short survey, four questions only with space to write your thoughts.

Please take:
Marches Energy Agency (MEA), working  closely with the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Local Authorities Energy Partnership (LEAP), is a registered charity and social enterprise, specialising in the delivery of practical, effective and creative ways of promoting and enabling energy reduction and renewable energy solutions. They are a great source of useful information on their website and publish an e-newsletter.
Click here.

Marches’ Guide and assistance for the Green Homes Grants Scheme: Click here.
Trustmark Click here.

PAS 2035Click here.

(Training) Association for Environment Conscious Building: Click here.

What are other CLTs doing?

                      Pic of Holmfirth

EcoHolmes CLT

A CLT similar to ours is in Holmfirth, Yorkshire, started just over a year ago. Like our CLT, it arose through the influence of the Transition movement, with a focus on low-energy affordable housing.  EcoHolmes says on its website: “The homes built will be allocated to local people and will also serve as exemplars of low carbon living.”
Holmfirth is also about the same size as Wirksworth, several miles north of the border of the Peak District National Park. Unlike us, however, EcoHolmes CLT covers much of the wide valley of the River Holme, with a population of 27,000 (which gives it a far larger area of land to look for sites, a considerable advantage as we have found out.)

We are both charities, but EcoHolmes doesn’t have the tax breaks we have because it is a charitable Community Benefit Society, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, not by the Charities Commission as we are. It has the power to raise funds from its members as shares and to pay interest on members’ share capital. We both charge only £1 to join but theirs buys one share in the venture.

Surprisingly few CLTs are emphasizing the energy efficiency aspect of affordable housing, but we have found some. (Click on their names to go to their websites.) Besides EcoHolmes CLT, we know that have gone further than we have and are planning a community with land for food growing and houses built with straw bales and cob. Christow CLT (Dartmoor) used the Passivhaus standard for 14 houses for rent (and four for sale). Broadhempston CLT (Devon) have self-built six low-cost straw bale houses. Tell us of any others you know about!

What is 'sweat equity'?

Community Land Trusts sometimes use self-build with potential shared owners reducing the cost by providing their labour and also securing a financial stake in the property. If there is enough interest locally, our Trust would be willing to consider this.

Some CLTs elsewhere have built through this process and the self-builders have secured a 25% stake in the property through their labour, with the option to buy a further 50% of the property. (The Trust retains 25%.)

Although specialist systems controlled by statutory regulations, such as electrical and heating systems, would be undertaken by professional tradespeople, the Trust could pursue grants for providing onsite training for other skills to ensure a professional finish was achieved.

From the experiences of other CLT self-build developments, it is the community spirit through the process, the sense of ownership and pride in the finished home, which this form ofpic of shack development gives such a distinct advantage.

Local planning policies do now take self- build into account and the government’s comprehensive spending review is proposing to provide loan facilities for self -builders and support funding for local authorities to release land for self -build projects.

Having said that finding suitable land may still be a stumbling block in the Wirksworth area.

Local architects design near-zero-energy houses

In Wirksworth, we are lucky to have a long-time resident who is one of the pioneers of energy efficient houses in the UK. Derek Trowell's architecture practice won the competition to design the BASF House, which was built in the grounds of the University of Nottingham in 2008 as part of the Creative Energy Homes Project. He says, "The brief we were BASF Housegiven was that the house had to be constucted for £70,000.00 (roughly a third of the cost of a conventional house at the time), to require no or minimal maintenance, and to require no heating."
Here is a brief summary of the main elements:
  • low-cost industrial materials containing insulation, quick to construct also reducing costs.
  • Square shape – most economical. Ceilings lined with smartboard (looks like plasterboard but behaves like it has a high thermal mass, so excess heat in summer is absorbed in day and released at night).
  • South elevation – liveable sun space with louvres for shading, summer mainly open, winter mainly closed. Open plan living, central stairs with access to the front bedrooms, and a section creating air flow that heats in winter, cools in summer. Solar panels on the roof heat water.
  • North elevation – for rooms needing less heating (bathroom, kitchen, guestroom, storage); extra insulation and minimal openings to minimise heat loss.
  • Side walls – solid, as part of an assumed terrace.
  • Ground-air heat exchanger installed a metre down under the house, drawing in air (average 10C) through ducts to preheat space in winter and precool it in summer.
  • Still being lived in and uses only 10 kWh/m2 of energy per year (it was predicted to use 15 kWh/m2) compared with the average house in the UK which currently uses over 200 kWh/m2 per year. 
GRT Architecture

Air source heat pumps - are they the answer?

Home heating is one of the main contributors of carbon emissions at around 20% of all UK emissions. The government has set a target of banning the installation of gas boilers in all new homes from 2025, with many climate change groups pushing for all gas boilers to be replaced by 2035. A leading heating alternative source is air source heat pumps.

In November, Chesterfield Transition Town held a Zoom workshop on air source heat pumps and two of WTCLT board members, Brian Hebron and Kevin Mann, took part. Both have been heating their homes for over 10 years with air source heat pumps, so they had a significant contribution to make.

To download a pdf of the excellent notes from the workshop, Click here and scroll down for this workshop. 

If you know someone who might be interested in our work, please forward this newsletter to them, using the link at the end of the newsletter.

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