6 February 2020
Six years to the day since he put a motion asking Norwich City Council to build new housing ‘to the highest possible environmental standards’ Nelson ward councillor, Paul Neale, has gained unanimous backing from councillors to make this happen.
Back in 2014, Councillor Neale had made a similar proposal to the city council. Although councillors only agreed, at that time, to explore the possibility of building to higher standards, Councillor Neale believes that his motion led, eventually to the award-winning Passivhaus standard council houses built at Goldsmith Street.
Councillor Neale said:
“When I put my original motion to the council, six years ago to the day, it was watered down by Labour councillors who would only agree to ask a group of councillors to ‘explore the implications of building new housing to the highest possible environmental standards’. I’m glad that this option was explored and has led to fantastic examples of Passivhaus building that we see now in Norwich. These construction levels achieve wins all round: for tenants facing fuel poverty; for the council by reducing rent arrears; and for the environment by helping tackle the climate crisis.
“However, I have been concerned, recently, that the council might revert to building lower standard homes when it’s vitally important that we maintain the highest environmental standards. The need for urgent action in the face of the climate crisis is even more widely recognised today than it was when I first brought the matter to a council meeting, so I put a new motion to encourage the council to build on its success and continue to build to a standard which shows the imagination and quality we’ll need to get through the climate emergency.”
(1) The full text of Councillor Neale’s motion, as amended, is here:
The successful completion of the Goldsmith Street development, with houses built to PassivHaus standards, has been recognised to be the way forward for social housing. These construction levels achieve a win for tenants, especially those susceptible to fuel poverty, a win for the council in reducing rent arrears and lowering maintenance and a win for the environment by moving in the right direction to tackle the climate crisis.
Council RESOLVES to ask:
1) cabinet to commit to building all new housing to the highest possible environmental standards, that are financially viable and are appropriate to the site, rather than the minimum set in the current national and local planning frameworks; and
2) officers to submit a response to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s The Future Homes Standard Consultation asking for the highest possible levels of energy efficiency to be required as soon as possible.