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Baker Homes Blog

Research on impact of large estate renewal in london revealed

Posted by Emma Jones on 28/07/15 07:00

High Rise Hope Revisited - retrofit works on tower blocks improve quality of life for residentsLSE Housing & Communities carried out a detailed social study of Edward Woods High Rise estate in Hammersmith & Fulham to find out how major retrofit of tower blocks affected the community. The report provoked a lot of interest and estate retrofits elsewhere.

The estate is managed by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and consists of three 23-storey tower blocks, containing 754 flats, ranging from studio to two bedroom. The works aimed to transform the appearance of the blocks while reducing energy use and costs of bills, and addressing the problems of unsatisfactory physical conditions. The ROCKWOOL external wall insulation system was fitted to all blocks, and the south facade was clad in solar PV to fuel the lifts and communal lighting.

Overall, the works improved the quality of life for residents. The estate experiences high levels of deprivation and fuel poverty, with two thirds of residents suffering excess damp and cold in winter before the improvements were made. Residents reported improvements in their quality of life.  Residents saying their quality of life was “good” or “excellent” rose from 68% of occupants (in 2011) to 78% (2015), while residents saying their quality of life was “bad” or “terrible” dropped from 21% (2011) to 6% (2015). Generally, residents were proud to live there, and had a positive experience of the refurbishment works, despite the inevitable disruption caused.

On average, energy bills fell by 4%, with studio flats seeing their bills halve. More than 50% of residents said that their bills had gone down or stayed the same since the retrofit works took place, despite a rise in the price of energy. Bills did increase for those in one and two-bedroom flats – but far less than the increase in energy prices. Overall use of energy dropped by 24%, which also translated to a reduction in CO2. This shows that the energy efficiency of homes was improved, helping to reduce fuel poverty rates.

Darren Snaith, Director of Refurbishment and Regeneration at ROCKWOOL, commented, “High Rise Hope Revisited shows that whilst this type of refurbishment scheme can help alleviate fuel poverty, the transformation of the visual appearance of Edward Woods at both estate and wider neighbourhood scale has improved the sense of well-being of residents, making the area a more attractive environment to live.

Professor Anne Power, Head of LSE Housing & Communities, said “The south facing walls of solar panels are particularly impressive. Even with scaffolding, blue sheeting, dust, noise and delays over two years, the residents were strongly positive about the estate, the energy gains, and the improved appearance of the blocks as a result of cladding.”

Key lessons can be learnt from this project. Residents suggested improving the management of the works, especially concerning communication with those who lived in the flats. Regular updates on progress and delays would significantly help the smooth running of any similar projects. Some residents felt disappointed by the level of internal refurbishment, and did not understand the aim of the works. It is therefore crucial to effectively communicate the reasons behind any large scale refurbishment.

However, the important thing to take away from this is that large-scale refurbishment of tower blocks can significantly improve the lives of those who live in them, and that demolition and rebuilding of these estates is not necessarily the best solution.


Was this of use? Have you experienced estate renewal? How did you find it? If you were managing the works residents react?

To download the full report or the executive summary, click here

A further large scale retrofit if being undertaken with Portsmouth City Council.  Read more about this project here

Topics: Retrofit, Fuel poverty, Renewable energy & heat, SHIFT partner, Energy efficiency

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