Barnsbury Housing Association
Barnsbury Housing Association Asset Management Support
FFT were appointed in July 2019 to provide asset management support in respect of circa 29 properties in Barnsbury Street. The brief required us to assess all planned maintenance works required to the properties to raise them to a good standard, covering both internal and external building works, both fabric and services driven.
During the latter part of 2019 Barnsbury Housing Association, as an early adopter, elected to declare a Climate Change Emergency. The effect of this was direct on their portfolio of properties and specifically the works we had been commissioned to undertake, as we now had to reassess all planned maintenance upgrading works in the context of carbon reduction and the drive to achieve zero carbon homes.
Our role for the project was initially a surveying one, where we undertook site visits to assess the planned maintenance requirements to each of the properties. We then provided quantity surveying services in estimating the capital cost of the works and considered life cycle costs and timelines.
With the change of the scheme, as a result of the client declaring a climate change emergency, to one that was to deliver zero carbon solutions, our role was enhanced to include project management services, and procurement support. A wider and more specialist design team was appointed to support the scheme, under our control. This included an environmental consultant, Enhabit, as well as conservation and sustainability architects, SWARCH.
The project was then reappraised to give consideration to the planned maintenance works to be undertaken, but from the perspective of a zero-carbon strategy. This introduced new works and a new prioritisation, following more intrusive surveys being completed.
The specific challenges for this project are four-fold. Firstly, Barnsbury Housing Association’s property portfolio, being within Islington, London, is generally within a conservation area, such is the age and architectural quality of its stock. Much of it dates from the Georgian and Victorian periods. Some of the properties are also listed.
Although, listed properties are exempt from the need to achieve energy performance standards, the client’s stance, ensured they should be considered. Achieving carbon reduction initiatives within such properties was a challenge.
Secondly, securing planning permission to the properties where such carbon reduction works affected the external facade was a challenge. Thirdly, the type of works being undertaken, necessitated more specialist contractors to deliver them and securing those locally was an issue. While lastly securing positive engagement from the residents was also an issue, where the works proposed were intrusive and would not in all cases demonstrate a physical benefit immediately.
To solve the challenges that FFT faced, we worked with Barnsbury Housing Association to appoint specialists in environmental consultancy and in architectural sustainability and conservation. This enabled us to develop a bespoke scheme for Barnsbury Street, that achieved the right balance between carbon reduction initiatives, and required planned maintenance works, such as re-roofing.
In addition, we engaged with Islington planners, in early consultation on the project to achieve their commitment to the scheme and to incorporate their advice. We also approached resident engagement in the project, through developing a strategy for education and consultation, to take forward throughout the project and into monitoring of the works in use. We also look to secure interest from specialist local contractors through a soft market testing exercise when the project reaches its appropriate point in the programme.
Through the input of FFT in managing this individual project in a flexible and collaborative way and in working with the client and adapting to their changing brief, we have ensured the progression of the scheme.
Through our experience we have introduced initiatives that have overcome specific problems faced. We continue to support the client and take the project forward, with works commencing on site during 2021.