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Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s decarbonisation plan for listed buildings

A GREATER degree of pragmatism and even new planning legislation could be needed to allow historic buildings to become eco-friendly according to a council chief.

During a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Regeneration scrutiny committee, the issue was brought up as councillors discussed an update on the authority’s decarbonisation plan

Cllr Lisa Winnett said: “A concern that I have is with listed building heating and electricity.

“We have a lot in our borough and how are we going to decarbonise them when regulations are in place on what we can and can’t have?

“It’s quite limiting.”

The council’s director of regeneration, Richard Crook answered: “This is a really good question.”

Using the council’s renovation of the  General Offices in Ebbw Vale as an example Mr Crook said: “We have a listed building; we had an aspiration of getting to carbon zero on the work side.

“CADW (The Welsh Government’s historic environment service)  would not let us put double glazing in or even secondary double glazing in there.

“Some of the legislation has to catch up with the where we are with the carbon agenda.

He believed that CADW and other bodies would need to be “more pragmatic” I with what can be done to a listed building “without affecting it’s looks” if the country is going get to carbon zero.

Mr Crook explained what the council did to the General Office: “We connected it to our district heating system, so it gets low carbon heating, the electricity comes from a green source.

“You can have better use of rooms where we have smart technology around lighting and temperature.

“What we are faced with is what is the best we can do with some buildings.

“Not every building will get to carbon zero and it’s a question that will run through this debate for the next few years.

“Legislation has to catch up with our aspiration there are things we can’t do because of old guidance.

The decarbonisation plan update will be looked at by councillors on the Executive team at their meeting, next Wednesday, September 22.

The General Office (GO) was built in 1915-16 for the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company.

It was designed by Veale and Sant of Cardiff, in a free Dutch baroque style.

It is Grade ii listed as it is a “fine and rare survival of an industrial office complex.”

Currently housed in the building are the Ebbw Vale Works Museum, the Gwent Archives, and the council management team.

The GO has seven flexible meeting spaces and two projection suites to cater for capacities from up to  250 people.

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