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PARTNERSHIP ‘T


A CIBSE award-winning housing association has shown how the refurbishment of existing properties can bring dividends for both client and tenants, writes Andy Pearson


his project never started out as a carbon-cutting challenge,’ says Matthew Bush, sustainability manager at the Metropolitan


Housing Partnership (MHP), referring to the social housing provider’s whole-house approach to refurbishing its Victorian properties. However, despite his assertion, the initiative has been so successful in cutting carbon that the team behind the initiative won both Carbon Champion and Public Sector Client of the Year categories at this year’s CIBSE Building Performance Awards. Rather than setting out to save carbon, the


project originated as a pragmatic response to MHP’s commitment to meet the government’s Decent Homes Standard and reduce its maintenance costs. This standard was introduced to ensure all social housing is warm, weatherproof and has reasonably modern facilities, including kitchens and bathrooms. The standard is relatively straightforward


to implement on large estates or in blocks of flats, where refurbishment is simply a matter of replicating the same solution in identical properties throughout the scheme. The challenge for Metropolitan Housing


Trust London, part of MHP, was that many of its worst-performing homes were Victorian street properties, most of which were formerly private homes purchased under a variety of government initiatives and funding opportunities. Typically, these properties were constructed from brick single-skin external walls, slate-tiled roofs and single-glazed timber sash windows. Some of these houses had been modified


in the past or converted by the previous owner; others remained untouched; while some had the additional burden of being situated in conservation areas. As a result, MHT London had more than 600 individual properties, pepper-potted around Haringey, North London, in varying sizes, styles and layouts and states of repair. For the majority of these homes, a significant amount of work was required to meet the Decent Homes obligation. Any such work would be disruptive for the residents. What’s more, from the MHT


44 CIBSE Journal June 2011


Metropolitan Housing Partnership staff Nishat Riaz (left) and Steven Devonport at a refurbishment project


London’s perspective it was difficult to programme the works around the residents, which added to the costs. In response, MHT London set up a small


regeneration team called the Neighbourhood Investment Unit (NIU), which includes a resident liaison officer and two building surveyors (one senior). The idea was to tackle these properties in-house so, with the exception of structural issues, consultants are rarely used. Rather than carry out works piecemeal,


the team decided on a comprehensive refurbishment of the whole property


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