4 - Buildings and energy

Front exterior image of Cheltenham Town Hall

Heating for homes and workspaces currently makes up almost a third of all UK carbon emissions. Excessive use of energy due to inefficiencies and sourcing from fossil fuels also contributes significantly to climate change. Improvements drastically need to be made to improve the energy efficiency of housing and non-domestic properties, ensuring they need less energy to heat. This will make them cheaper to run and more comfortable to live and work in, whilst reducing our dependence on imported energy. In turn, we hope to tackle fuel poverty and improve the health and wellbeing of residents that struggle to cover the costs of energy, particularly during the winter months. This needs to apply to both new and existing housing stock and other types of assets that utilise energy.

Ongoing and completed

In spring 2021, CBC was awarded over £380k to install a utility metering platform. The platform brings together all the available energy and water data for some of our biggest buildings, via mechanisms such as a network of sub-meters providing real time data on energy usage. The data will inform a programme of behavioural change, enabling us to reduce energy waste in these buildings.

This project has also generated a decarbonisation plan for each of the identified buildings, such as Leisure@ and the Pittville Pump Rooms, which have considered the viability of removing gas heating and cooking elements from each building and explored the required funding and permissions necessary for the council to proceed with such actions.

The continued strong partnership between the council and Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) will be vital in ensuring an inclusive approach, ensuring that the benefits of investment and climate mitigation through retrofit activities and sustainable new developments are far reaching. Collaboration to deliver shared climate priorities is already underway between CBC and CBH.

A ‘fabric-first’ approach is being taken with the existing homes managed by CBH which include the council housing stock of around 4,500 dwellings. Many of these homes are heated by GHG emitting gas boilers and improving the insulation and reviewing low carbon heating options will ensure that the homes are as energy efficient as possible. CBC and CBH have already been successful in a bid to the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) for a deep retrofit scheme. This will demonstrate the potential of our existing homes in becoming energy efficient through fabric improvements and low carbon heating. We continue to bid for future waves of these funds and, where beneficial, strengthen bids through partnerships with other local authorities.

New social housing developments in Cheltenham will seek to achieve the very highest standards of energy efficiency. CBC is working together with CBH to regenerate existing redundant sites, as part of the commitment to provide 500 affordable homes delivered or in the pipeline by 2026, made possible by

£180m investment by CBC to provide quality homes and support thriving communities. The work is a direct delivery of CBC’s key priority to increase the supply of housing and investment to build resilient communities and CBH’s priority to provide great homes to make Cheltenham a better place to live. CBH will also strive to make the best use of land in the interests of enhancing biodiversity performance, with insightful design for long-term ecological impact. The development of 320 Swindon Road is an early example.


Priority in 2021-23

  • Measure the energy usage of CBC owned properties and develop a heating and energy efficiency strategy to set out actions needed to actively reduce energy consumption and move away from the use of fossil fuels. Introduce behaviour change programmes to reduce energy consumption in council owned buildings. Support businesses and residents to similarly reduce their consumption
  • Retrofit council-owned social housing, focusing first on the homes most at risk of fuel poverty
  • Develop a new ‘Sustainability Design Code’ for the Golden Valley Development, as a vision for integrated living in West Cheltenham that promotes a low carbon lifestyle. Our aspiration is for this thinking to then be replicated across the town, or within other districts and regions
  • Explore the viability of a shared low-carbon heat network, to help reduce borough-wide emissions

Priority in 2024-26

  • Retrofit council-owned properties with sustainable, energy-efficient solutions where feasible
  • Help owner-occupiers to create more energy efficient homes. For example, by supporting energy companies to provide fuel-poor or vulnerable households with insulation, or by helping influence the retrofit market to ensure there is effective demand for energy efficient measures by those that are classified as “able to pay”. This may include supporting the provision of skills-training for local workers, actively encouraging applications for new installations, and facilitating the applications of funding bids from home owners
  • Seek to invest in renewable energy generation by identifying suitable areas in the future Planning Policy documents, such as the Cheltenham Plan and Joint Core Strategy. Review the feasibility of alternative energy sources, new technologies and
  • innovations and the potential to be a net contributor
  • Commit to using 100% renewable electricity across council owned assets, including those operated by key partners. Support businesses and residents to do the same. Encourage developers to commit to renewable energy by stipulating requirements in a new Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

Priority in 2027-28

  • Engage with landlords to improve energy efficiency of homes in the private rented sector and commercial properties and encourage them to achieve good insulation
  • Look for potential to align Conservation Area policies with climate emergency goals