Housing Innovation award for Oldham’s BGreen


First Choice Homes Oldham and partner’s investment in housing in the centre of Oldham has been recognised in a prestigious win at the Housing Innovation Awards in the Most Innovative Regeneration Scheme category.

The main parties to the scheme are Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council (OMBC) who own the district heating plant and network, First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) who own the large majority of the 1400 properties attached to the district heating scheme, British Gas (Econergy), Halsall Lloyd Partnership Architects and Designers, and Forrest, British Gas’ delivery partner in construction.

BGreen – which is a collaborative partnership between First Choice Homes, Oldham Council, British Gas, NHS Oldham and Forrest – has been funded to the tune of £10M by British Gas Energy Company Obligation Funding and £11m from FCHO.

The physical improvements to 1,400 homes and the environment include:-

  • New energy centre – The existing energy centre was demolished and a new energy centre constructed to accommodate biomass boilers and standby gas boilers.
  • External wall insulation to properties with improved appearance of properties.
  • Bathroom, kitchen, and heating carcass renewals for several of the properties and external replacement of windows, doors, fascias, and gutters.
  • FCHO have begun a programme of improved fencing, pathways, and waste management to individual properties.

BGreen covers five estates in the OL1 postcode and customers across the area have been involved in the decision making of the improvements, and have set up a community group, OL1. OL1 is developing community agreements which concentrate on the elements of the project that are reliant on bringing about change in customers’ behaviour relating to 1) accessing health services, 2) being proud of their homes and community and 3) equipping customers with the tools and knowledge for them to maximise their income and to reduce their energy use and costs to ensure they are warm and comfortable in their homes.

Research commissioned by FCHO and carried out by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) indicates increased levels of community engagement in BGreen through work with Forever Manchester. 35 Forever Manchester ‘cash for graft’ awards have been funded in BGreen including community gardens, games nights, coffee mornings, keep fit sessions, and growing and craft clubs.

Judges praised the partnership working in BGreen which includes working with GMP to tackle drug dealing and organised crime using CCTV images to take action to remove perpetrators from the area.

Cath Green, CEO, FCHO said: “We’re so pleased to have been recognised for our and our partners’ commitment to the BGreen area. At the beginning of the scheme we made six pledges to the residents of BGreen, including ensuring that they are safe, healthy and warm. By winning this award we feel we have been recognised for our joint efforts and residents are truly benefitting from the significant improvements to the area.”

Partners, a board member, a customer representative and FCHO staff attended the event in London on 18 February to collect their award.

FCHO was also nominated in the Most Innovative Retrofit Scheme for the same scheme.