Belgrave Estate, Tamworth

The Belgrave Estate in Tamworth is in the top 20% most deprived areas in England. The estate consists of mainly terraced houses with a small proportion of flats. The estate did not have a gas infrastructure therefore residents were limited to heating their homes via inefficient storage heaters. The Energy Savings Trust states that “Electric Storage heating is one of the most expensive heating options in the UK, and it also emits more carbon dioxide than most. It is also harder to control electric storage heaters than radiators, especially with older systems”.

National Grid Affordable Warmth Solutions (NGAWS) identified the potential of bringing gas to the estate through our ‘Off Gas Grid’ database and engaged with Tamworth Borough Council with a view to developing a financial package that would result in gas being made available throughout the estate with local residents. Following a feasibility study we were able to commit £423,000 of funding to the project by applying the National Grid Fuel Poor Voucher.

In Spring 2014 we held a number of community events and engaged with tenants and homeowners to share with them our plans.

In the summer of 2014 NGAWS working with T&K Gallagher Ltd commenced laying circa 2,400m of new low pressure gas main. Brendan Meanwell, Operations Manager from Gallagher’s stated “although there were significant difficulties with locating underground cables and having teams working at multiple locations by planning this project into six manageable phases, we were able to deliver the program within the allocated timescales with the help of our contract partners”. A total of 259 properties were connected to gas.

Tamworth Borough Council agreed to fund the installation of new heating system to their properties. To ensure every home has an opportunity to convert to gas heating NGAWS also committed £385,000 funding to enable 108 private owner occupiers to benefit from the installation of new heating systems. NGAWS preferred installer Warm Energy Ltd carried out the install programme to private homes. Paul Edgar, Managing Director commented “Our challenge was many residents had used electric storage and panel heaters for over 20 years and were unaware of the nature of a wet gas-fired central heating system installation and its operation. Communication with landlords, tenants, homeowners and carers was critical with text and email communication being used along with the more traditional telephone and face to face meetings. The systems complied of an Ideal Logic Boiler, Stelrad Radiators and Seimens Controls were designed to allow for a single day installation and training on the new system.”

Customer feedback to their new heating systems has been extremely positive;

Mrs K stated that she is lovely and warm and thinks that her gas central heating is a lot better than her old electric storage heaters.
Mrs S commented that the lads were lovely and made a good job outside, NGAWS kept her informed the whole way through. Mrs S remarked that her new heating system has made a big difference to her.
Mrs H remarked that it was the best thing she ever did signing up to the scheme and thanked NGAWS for everything.
NGAWS believes a critical success a factor to these projects is to understand the impact cold damp homes have on occupants. To support our learning in this area we commissioned a collaborative study with two leading charities National Energy Action and The Children’s Society. This research project will work with families to better understand the challenges and our learning’s from this will better inform the future delivery on a National scale to measure the pre and post effects of fuel poverty.

Potential average CO2 emissions show a decrease of 4,304 (kg/yr) and potential average SAP 2009 rating increasing from 53 to 72.

Jeremy Nesbitt, NGAWS Managing Director commented that “this was one of the most complex schemes we’ve delivered and credit must go to our team and business partners who worked tirelessly to deliver affordable gas solutions to these homes on the Belgrave Estate.” He added “the positive changes to family life brought about through the investment by ourselves, National Grid and Tamworth Council, together with the skill and commitment of our contract partners Gallagher’s and Warm Energy, is truly remarkable and I’m immensely proud of these achievements.”

Rob Barnes, Director of Housing and Health, Tamworth Borough Council stated “this project has been an excellent example of the way in which partnership and innovation can benefit local communities. Tackling fuel poverty is a key priority for the Council and we have been pleased to work with NGAWS to ensure that residents are able to exercise choice in relation to the fuel type they use. I’m extremely grateful to all those involved for the commitment they have shown in delivering the work effectively and to the satisfaction of our residents”.