A colony of bats who have made their home in a terrace of 150-year-old houses are being protected by White Horse Housing Association during a £600,000 refurbishment programme.
The bats were found in roof spaces of homes in Ammerdown Terrace, Kilmersdon, near Radstock during preparations for the major refurbishment programme, due to start this month.
The work, which will include new roofs, better insulation, double glazing, new heating and solar panels, is aimed at raising the energy rating standards of the housing association’s 32 homes in the village.
The first phase of the work will be at a row of 15 two and three-bedroomed cottages in Ammerdown Terrace, just outside the Somerset village.
The two and three bedroomed homes, which were built in 1872, will all have new double glazing to the front, internal ceiling, cavity wall and loft insulation.
Solar roof panels will be installed to reduce heating costs and also divert any excess power generated to heat the water.
Steve Warran, the association’s chief executive said work was delayed while a licence to work around the bats were sought from Natural England.
He said: “We’ve had some experts in to assess the colony and DNA testing has identified the long-eared, pipistrelle and serotine bat.
“We won’t be able to work between mid-November and March when the bats are hibernating but we’ll be keeping tenants fully informed about when we are carrying out the work to minimise the disruption.”
Homes that have not already had their heating upgraded will have a new smart, modern and energy-efficient electric storage heating system installed.
Operations director Belinda Eastland said: “We first acquired these homes in 2015 and the only form of heating they had in them was multi-fuel burners which ran the back boiler for the central heating.
“The tenants had to get up in the morning and light the fire to get hot water and heating.
“The new Quantum storage system, which is far more modern and efficient than older storage heaters, it is programmable and cheap to run.”
Mrs Eastland said the work is essential to meet the government’s energy rating targets.
She said: “We’ve got to get the homes up to EPC C by 2030 and some of them are at F, some at D and some at E so there’s a lot of work to be done.
Tenant Maggy Large, who has lived in Ammerdown Terrace for 30 years, said she is looking forward to the improvements.
She commented: “It is going to be lovely. I’m looking forward to having the solar panels and the double glazing and I’ll be really glad when it’s all done. White Horse Housing are looking after us very well.”
The cost of the work is being met by a £300,000 grant from the government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, with the rest being match-funded by White Horse Housing Association.
The housing association is taking advantage of the scaffolding that has been put up by replacing each roof in the terrace.
Mrs Eastland said: “We are investing up to £200,000 extra to replace the timbers, felt and slate tiles. So the programme is assisting us to do work that needed doing anyway.”
Since 2015 White Horse has invested more than £1m into the village homes, including installing new bathrooms, heating systems, front doors, urgent roof repairs and insulation.
Prior to the start of the refurbishment the housing association has been consulting with tenants.
Mrs Eastland continued:“We’re discussing timescales, when the work will start and how long it will go on for.
“We’re listening to their views, acting on their suggestions where we possibly can and trying to fit in around them to do the work.
“It is our property but it is their home, which we respect and we appreciate they must be part of the process and have the opportunity to be consulted.
“We’ll also have people on site regularly to answer questions, we are working with the tenants to minimise the disruption but after this work is completed they will have very well insulated, much warmer homes that cost less to heat.”
Image: Ammerdown Terrace tenant Maggy Large, who has lived in her White Horse Housing Association home for 30 years
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