Craghead (UK): PV and Private Sector Housing Renewal

Executive Summary

Durham County Council, a unitary authority since April 2009 is the sixth largest in England with 238,000 homes to over 500,000 people. With areas of significant deprivation, 63,000 households are classified as living in fuel poverty.

Targeting energy inefficient homes and emission reduction are at the heart of our strategies and form a priority objective within the ‘altogether greener’ theme of our Council Plan and the Durham Sustainable Community Strategy. Our target is to reduce emissions by 750,000 tonnes by 2020. Our altogether approach has been rolled out to staff and citizens through partnerships and awareness raising events and by appointing champions internally and within the community. Durham is also committed to the delivery of ‘altogether better housing’ and a strategy of private sector housing renewal in its former coalfield regeneration areas.

The Craghead regeneration project is a partnership initiative which has been funded jointly by Single Housing Investment Programme funding, Durham County Council, Scottish and Southern Electricity with additional resources being made available by British Gas, NEDL, owner occupiers and private landlords, the Craghead Development Trust and Groundworks North East.

The project evolved as a result of local community action and desire to improve the environment and housing in the former run down colliery terraces in central Craghead. By placing energy efficiency at the heart of the housing improvements it has been possible to develop partnerships with energy and utility companies allowing the scheme to expand to benefit more homes and introduce more measures.

The objective or purpose of the project

The projects primary aim has been to reverse Cragheads decline and renew housing market confidence. This is being achieved by investing in energy efficiency and environmental measures that uplift and transform both the housing stock and the external environment of 5 key streets in the village.

Key objectives

  • Placing energy efficiency measures at the heart of the improvements by providing free solar PV and an insulated brick effect external render treatment for 89 properties within the improvement achieve.
  • maximum physical uplift (see photographs)
  • address a legacy of low energy rated housing and associated fuel poverty issues.
  • maximum funding opportunities from the governments CERT and FIT allowing the scheme to expand to neighbouring streets.
  • Community Energy Champions – To ensure best use of PV provision and provide general energy efficiency advice and education a Community Energy Champions scheme is being developed to utilize community volunteers in Craghead to provide advice and information.
  • Support for local training and employment – PV, roofing, and environmental contractors used employ local labour and have taken on additional local trainees as part of contractural obligations.
  • Multi-agency delivery approach via a Steering Group involving residents, local landlords, Accent Housing, Craghead Development Trust, Groundwork North East, Scottish and Southern Electricity,British Gas, Durham County Council and Stanley Area Action Partnership. This partnership has secured resident participation, funding leverage and buy in to succession planning.
  • Sustainability/Neighbourhood planning – Working in partnership with local residents, council officers and other stakeholders a succession plan is currently under development to address key neighbourhood issues related to historically high numbers of empty properties, poor environmental standards and high incidents of anti-social behaviour, and poor management. The plan is linked to the delivery of the following key measureable outputs
  • Number of properties made energy efficient
  • Number of properties improved
  • Number of empty properties brought back into use
  • Number of poor management practices addressed

The current situation, the proposed solution and the actual fulfilment

Before photographs:

Craghead comprises of approximately 400 traditionally built red brick solid wall 2 and 3 bedroomed victorian properties in terraces extending along the main road between Durham City and Stanley.

Since the closure of Craghead Colliery in the mid 1960s housing standards have deteriorated, void rates have increased, the private rented sector has expanded and issues of anti social behaviour and crime were common place.

After photographs:

Improved environment:


The Craghead regeneration project is delivering a number of initiatives that address the needs of the community and also enhance the energy efficiency of the properties and adjoining area. These include:

  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy innovations including:
  • 89 properties to benefit from solid wall external rendering, including a hand tinted brick effect to blend in with surrounding terraces
  • Free solar voltaic roof installation to 89 properties that will generate electricity for the grid providing a rebate of between £100 – £200 on resident’s annual electricity bills with likely extension of the scheme to a further 40 properties.
  • An increase of the SAP rating of properties to above 65 providing an estimated 25% energy savings for residents, lifting many residents out of fuel poverty
  • The implementation of a Community Energy Champions Scheme in the village to educate residents in the use of PV and make energy efficiency improvements.

Linda Talbot Local Resident ‘ I can already feel the benefits of the insulation my house is much warmer and looks a 100 times better. The free solar electricity is good for us as we are retired and are in the house during the day’

  • Improved environment
  • Boundary wall improvements
  • Provision of car parking and soft landscaping
  • Resurfacing of roads and pavements

Rosalind Henderson Local Resident and activist ‘After considerable effort and many years work residents are seeing the benefit of the investment in Craghead. The village had developed a bad reputation and was becoming a no go area with frequent police raids and many boarded up properties’.

  • Addressing Empty Properties and Poor Private Sector Management Standards

Since the installation of the PV panels and the solid wall render a number of empty properties have been acquired by private investors. These properties are being refurbished to a good standard

Aidan Sunter Managing Director Chrome Properties ‘We have recently bought a number of long term empty properties in Craghead because we think Craghead has a sound future. We are completely refurbishing these properties and will be letting them to local families’ 


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