Rachel-Ann Atterbury presented a report which updated the Board on the excellent progress being made under the Zero Caron Homes Work Programme of the Board.
Councillor Ian Courts advised that he supported fully the proposals although there was a need to examine the cost parameters to ensure they were realistic. He also asked whether developers could make alternative provisions (allowable offsets) if they could not deliver zero carbon homes on a site. Rachel-Ann Atterbury assured the Board that both matters were built into the Routemap and acknowledged particularly the need to attempt to drive down costs and what the WMCA could do in this area. She commented that the issue of ‘off-setting’ and the need for consideration to be given to retro-fitting some measures at existing properties were also being addressed. She commented that as offsetting could sometimes reduce any adverse impacts rather than deliver zero carbon homes further work was being undertaken on this matter.
Councillor Peter Butlin challenged whether it was possible to deliver both affordable housing and zero carbon homes in view of the additional costs in fitting, for example, an air source heat pump or a ground source heat pump compared to a traditional gas boiler heating system. He suggested that the affordable technology required was not yet available and that concentrating on delivering affordable housing should be the priority of this Board. Councillor Ian Courts suggested that the additional costs could be met by driving down the purchase price of the land required for development. He commented that it was for the WMCA to set the standards and act as ‘Champion’ on such matters. Rachel-Ann Atterbury acknowledged the comments on the additional costs involved and explained that further work was being carried out but advised that developments at scale brought the average price down. It was possible for some developers to include such measures at cost and that implications other than cost needed to be considered e.g. zero carbon measures could lead to the running costs of the building being reduced.
Councillor Daren Pemberton commented that, ultimately, developers would deliver the product that the market demanded and was of the view that there was no choice but to persevere with the delivery of zero carbon homes. He reported that on 14 January 2021 Stratford on Avon District Council and Warwick District Council would begin the development of a new Joint Strategic Plan and invited Rachel-Ann Atterbury to work with colleagues in those authorities to ensure that the provision and delivery of zero carbon homes was embedded in that Strategy. Rachel-Ann Atterbury advised that both authorities played an active part in the work of the Zero Carbon Homes Working Group.
Gareth Bradford reminded the Board that its Terms of Reference included a requirement to improve the quality of housing provided and to be pro-active in promoting new forms of development. He commented that whilst initially the requirement to provide a 20% affordable element on schemes before WMCA financial assistance could be provided had received resistance, this was now accepted by developers. Adopting a similar line on zero carbon homes would deliver additional benefits for local people. He commented that progress on delivery would be monitored closely and would be reported regularly to this Board.
1. That the principles and format of the Zero Carbon Homes Charter as set out in Appendix A to the report be agreed in readiness for publication;
2. That the contents of the Zero Carbon Homes Routemap as set out in Appendix B to the report be agreed in readiness for publication;
3. That the proposal to launch formally the Zero Carbon Homes Charter and Routemap in early 2021 (date to be confirmed) be agreed;
4. That the excellent support from local authority officers on the Zero Carbon Homes Working Group and industry experts on the Zero Carbon Homes Taskforce in formulating the charter and Routemap be noted;
5. That delegated powers be granted to the Director of Housing and Regeneration in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Land to agree the final versions of the charter and Routemap (ready for publication).