Dudley to develop first net zero neighbourhood in the West Midlands

Brockmoor in Dudley has been chosen to participate in the Net Zero Neighbourhoods demonstrator programme, a scheme funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The WMCA will invest £1.65m capital into Phase 1 of the scheme, which will see low-energy retrofits take place in at least 50 homes in Brockmoor, as well as wider improvements to the neighbourhood such as new green spaces and transport links.

Eventually up to 300 homes in the area, a mix of both privately owned and social housing properties, will benefit from the Net Zero Neighbourhood scheme.

Homes will undergo ‘deep retrofit’ using cutting-edge insulation with options for solar panels and low carbon heating systems. Other measures introduced on a neighbourhood-wide scale could include LED street lighting, new pocket parks, playgrounds, communal food growing initiatives, green roofs and sustainable drainage systems.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

Our region is leading the way when it comes to tackling the climate emergency and the launch of this pioneering Net Zero Neighbourhoods approach is just the latest example of this. We’re delighted to be working with Dudley Council as our first local authority partner and look forward to seeing their plans come to life.

Retrofit is just part of the cost saving and environmental equation and the magic of the NZN approach is that we can look at issues from a broader, holistic and neighbourhood-wide scale – cleaning, greening and regenerating our communities in a much more systematic fashion with projects like green roofs, solar panels, sustainable drainage systems, low carbon heating systems, LED street lighting, new pocket parks and communal food growing initiatives.

This is tremendously exciting news and will help us shape the neighbourhoods of the future fostering wellbeing and improving quality of life for local residents for months and years to come.

The Net Zero Neighbourhood demonstrator follows studies which found that to date, deep retrofit initiatives have not generated change at a scale or pace necessary to achieve the region’s net zero goals. Most initiatives have only encouraged individual households to take up deep retrofit measures and cleaner heating technologies, not whole streets.

Cllr Rob Clinton, cabinet member for waste management and climate change, said:

Dudley welcomes this exciting opportunity to be the first local authority in the UK to receive Net Zero Neighbourhoods demonstrator funding.

This innovative scheme will help to forge new initiatives in tackling climate change, reducing fuel poverty and providing residents with an attractive, sustainable place to live, work and socialise.

Cllr Ian Courts, WMCA portfolio lead for environment, energy and HS2 and leader of Solihull Council, added:

Making homes energy efficient is key to the region playing its part in tackling climate change, so this demonstrator programme is a great opportunity to find out how to work with householders to retrofit their homes.

However, Net Zero Neighbourhoods offer a more holistic approach to building community-wide low carbon places and this programme should help us explore what works and what doesn’t.  This is really pioneering work and I hope we can trial this approach right across the region and support a transition to a more low carbon future at scale.