THE eight-storey block of flats in Beeston, West Yorkshire, had become a virtual no-go area because of the drunks and muggers that lurked round the run-down estate.
After nearly 10 years lying derelict and boarded up, the tower block known by locals as the â€œdustbin of Leedsâ€, is about to get a new lease of life under plans to make it into one of the countryâ€™s biggest green housing projects.
Shaftesbury House is being transformed into one of the countryâ€™s first zero-carbon residential schemes with nearly 200 apartments that will produce more energy than they use.
It has been renamed the Greenhouse, and Citu, a local developer, with backing from Co-operative Bank and Leeds city council, is creating one of the most environmentally friendly UK housing projects, as well as one of the most high-tech and affordable. It is due for completion next year.
â€œThere is a misconception that to be green you canâ€™t embrace technology or you have to sacrifice your standard of living, but we want to prove this is wrong. With our development you will still be able to do the things you enjoy doing,â€ said Chris Thompson of Citu.
Residents will be able to turn on their television and see their energy consumption translated into carbon emissions plus the cost in pounds, something that has not been implemented before.
â€œThe average person has no idea what his energy consumption is,â€ said Thompson.
Citu claims each apartment in the Â£27m part-restoration, part new-build scheme, a 10-minute walk from Leeds city centre, will save one tonne of carbon each year and 25,000 litres of water compared with the typical British home â€” equivalent to a total saving of 169 tonnes of carbon and 3.8m litres of water a year â€” making it about 60% more efficient than the average new-build.
A range of energy-saving measures has been employed, including wind turbines and solar panels, and a heat transfer system that regulates the temperature naturally.
There are also plans to build a nearby 320ft wind turbine that would be one of the biggest structures in Leeds.
Thompson and Leeds council hope the project will help to regenerate the area. Citu chose Beeston because it had excellent local facilities such as a school, sports centre, shops and community centre.
â€œAt first local people were sceptical but they are on board now they understand what we are trying to,â€ he said.
Services such as an electric car club, a bike-by-the-hour service and allotments are all aimed at promoting a sense of community, as is the strict policy of no buy-to-let landlord owners.
â€œWe are not allowing buy-to-let landlords because it makes the tenants more transient â€” it is much harder to create sustainable living if people are constantly coming and going,â€ said Thompson.
He hopes the scheme will become a model for green housing at a time when the government is pressing for more eco-friendly housing.
The Code for Sustainable Homes provides a rating on a scale of 1 to 6, and under government plans all homes should be at least a 3 by 2010 and a 6 by 2016. Today there are fewer than 150 units in the UK with a 4 rating.
Ben Marlow - Times Online
This looks like an interesting project that should be keenly watched