Eco-housing project called off for being ‘too pricey’

Renfrewshire Council said only one suitable bid was received during tendering for the multi-million pound project.

Eco-housing project called off for being ‘too pricey’ Getty Images

A multi-million pound eco-housing project designed to slash tenants’ heating bills by 90% has been called off because it ended up being too expensive.

Dubbed as a “revolutionary” scheme and the first of its kind in Scotland, the £4.5m investment by Renfrewshire Council was set to see 75 council homes across Paisley – all built in the 1960s – receive a retrofit to reduce their carbon emissions and boost their energy efficiency.

A total of 24 streets containing 144 crosswall properties were identified as potential areas to benefit from the groundbreaking initiative, with work originally scheduled to begin during the summer.

It could’ve enabled carbon dioxide emissions to drop by almost 100 tonnes per property over the next 25 years, collectively preventing 7400 tonnes of the gas entering the environment.

But following a delay to the tendering process due to the coronavirus pandemic, Renfrewshire Council has now revealed the project will not be happening.

The local authority said only one suitable bid was received during tendering and it was too pricey to proceed with.

Councillor Eileen McCartin, who represents Paisley Southwest, said she was disappointed to see the initiative stall.

Homes in her ward – such as some in Foxbar Drive, Abbotsford Crescent and Brediland Road – were highlighted as houses which could’ve been renovated through the scheme.

She said: “It’s very sad this project is not going ahead.

“It’s vital we make houses as energy efficient as possible, and I think anything we can do to further that is really important.

“I think it’s particularly important in socially-rented housing, where heating bills are already sky high. 

“I understand the Covid-19 situation has stalled some projects like this and, while I am sad these houses are not going to be done up at this stage, I do hope they will be done in the future because I think it’s so important we have the best heated and water-tight homes for our residents.”

The project was set to be part-funded through the UK Government, after the council secured £1.8m from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Whole House Retrofit competition.

But housing bosses have now been forced to reject the cash boost as they cancelled the plans, which could’ve reduced people’s annual heating bills to £150.

The council was going to work with tenants to select the final 75 properties to be kitted out with the likes of solar panels, improved external doors, new windows and underfloor insulation – but proceedings never reached that stage.

If the green scheme had gone ahead, it would’ve been the first time any housing in Scotland had been brought up to the EnerPHit standard – one of the highest energy standards in the UK for an energy performance retrofit.

A council spokesman said: “Following a tender process, only one compliant bid was received to carry out the required works and costs were significantly higher than anticipated.

“Unfortunately, this means we have had to decline the funding and the project will not take place.

“We will continue to try to identify possible alternative funding opportunities to allow the project to take place in future.”

By local democracy reporter Stephanie Brawn

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