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South West Resident’s Design Conference 2021

Residents and staff from housing providers across the South West joined us both virtually and in person to share ideas about home design, this year’s theme for the annual conference centred around zero carbon and energy efficiency. 

Hosted by PCH Vice Chair Debbie Roche, the conference engages residents in the design and delivery of new affordable homes and provide residents on information about the issues we face. 

First up was Andrew Lawrie, Head of Development for PCH gave an overview of the residents’ feedback we had in our 2020 report and how it compared to other providers in the South West. The stats showed that residents’ biggest priority was feeling safe in their homes with concerns over access to open space during lockdowns from residents living in flats.

Andrew Lawrie, Head of Development said: “It has been great to be able to hold the conference this year after cancelling 2020’s event. The IT of livestreaming to five different venues was a real challenge but seems to have worked well and the speakers were fantastic.”

Glynnis Poole from Livewest presented a focus on the theme of the day which was zero carbon, explaining how housing providers can accelerate their path to cutting out carbon emissions and improving environments. 

Next up, Martyn Ford from Daikin Industries, an international air conditioning manufacturer gave an interesting talk on heat pumps and how they’re the most energy efficient way of heating homes in the future. The heat pump gives off zero emissions unlike the modern-day gas boiler which emits carbon dioxide. The heat pump also doesn’t produce nitrogen dioxide which means they improve air quality inside and outside the home.   

Rounding off the day was John Garner from GE Consulting who received a huge applause for his presentation on biodiversity, climate change and ecology.  He highlighted future changes in requirements for new developments having to provide a 10% net ecological gain and the challenges involved in trying to achieve this.   Landlords would do well to survey their current land and capture any ecological gains, such as tree planting, and using these as ‘credits’ towards new housing projects.  

As in previous years, the event provided a great opportunity for staff and residents from different housing associations across the South West to come together and enjoy inspiring presentations, open discussions, and hands on activities and demonstrations. 

One resident said “I enjoyed the day very much and learnt a lot. It was interesting to speak to the speakers about their job roles. The lunch was excellent, and I always enjoy my time at Plumer House.” 

Vice Chair for PCH Debbie Roche said: “The first hybrid South West Residents Design Conference was a brilliant, thought-provoking day, one which will be in the minds of the attendees for a long time.  

Based on themes around climate change, one of the greatest challenges to humankind, attendees were enlightened to the impending local, national and global challenges and the current activity addressing such challenges. 

All presentations were given by experts in their field and were extremely interesting – which resulted in great inquisitive questions from the attendees.

It also became apparent that the obligations and responsibilities facing housing associations for tackling climate change are not going to be easy, nor cheap.  

The conference evidenced that the challenges of climate change can be effectively and positively addressed but we need to work together on our responsibilities to achieve a better future for ourselves, our future generations and a healthier world. 

We are all small pieces of the climate change jigsaw but when connected, our individual actions create the big picture – and that picture is one of a long green road.”