Lavenham: Energy group’s idea sent to Government

An energy group from west Suffolk has submitted its ideas for affordable and sustainable housing to a Government inquiry.

Transition Lavenham CIC has sent written evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into the code for sustainable homes and the housing standards review.

The review proposes to “wind down the role” of the code for sustainable homes, which is an internationally accepted environmental assessment method for rating the performance of new homes.

Group member John Busby, said they wanted to push the idea that affordable homes needed to be “affordable to live in”.

Members have also told the committee of their disappointment that plans for a private housing development on a former industrial site in Lavenham were passed with “half” the recommended affordable housing provision.

Mr Busby said: “Babergh District Council’s policy on the affordable housing element of any substantive development is a minimum requirement of 35%.

“In the case of the Armorex factory site, less than half the number of homes under this formula were agreed.

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“Moreover, the development is only being built to level 3 of the code for sustainable homes, whereas our local housing association builds to a minimum of code level 4.

“We argued that it was of no use building affordable houses if the occupants then couldn’t afford to live in them. If we are about to have a housing building boom, houses should be future proofed to ensure that running costs are minimised.”

Transition Lavenham is studying a house system design which, if built to high insulation standards, will virtually make it self-sufficient in energy. It takes advantage of the availability of LED lighting, which uses only 11% of the wattage required by corresponding filament bulbs.

Mr Busby continued: “We believe all new homes should now take advantage of this technology, especially affordable housing, so that the occupants can afford to live in them.”

The group, which has parish council backing, has initiated a scheme in Lavenham to get streetlights in the village changed to LED, and they are awaiting a feasibility study.

They could be asked to present their evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee on October 9.