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A Cool Place To Live

Barking RiversideBarking Riverside

A Cool Place To Live (ACPTL) was a project working with social landlords and residents to develop green space solutions to address the impacts of climate change.

Led by London Wildlife Trust and funded by Trust for London, the project aimed to encourage social housing providers to:

  • Recognise the benefits of green space in mitigating the impacts of climate change;
  • Incorporate green space into strategy, programmes and operational management;
  • Improve adaptation of estates to the impacts of climate change;
  • Improve the quality of life and well-being of residents.

The impacts of climate change are generally accepted as: Hotter, drier summers; warmer, wetter winters; increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events; potential changes to vegetation behaviour; and increase in plant pathogens.

Given that many social housing properties are located in the inner city, they are more likely to be impacted by aspects of climate change, and their residents are often less able to respond to (or escape from) these changes.

The project involved researching the impact and associated costs of climate change in the context of social housing. It explored the current use of adaptation measures and examined how Green Infrastructure (GI) can be used to support housing providers in mitigating the impacts.

The project aimed to engage residents and key stakeholders to reflect technical and strategic perspectives. Links were made between GI and other key objectives of social landlords such as amenity, health, well-being, asset management, and biodiversity. The benefits of implementing GI compared to artificial interventions, such as porous and permeable paving were assessed.

A number of social landlords engaged in ACPTL, including: Circle 33; East Thames; Genesis; Guinness; Hyde; L&Q; Peabody Trust; Poplar Harca; Southern Housing, and Tower Hamlets Homes.

Participation offered social landlords the opportunity to be at the forefront of future-proofing estates against climate change impacts; leading the implementation of interventions which support climate change mitigation; a better understating impacts of flood risk and urban heat island effect on residents; and taking strategic and practical actions for adaptation.

ACPTL was also supported by Neighbourhoods Green; a national initiative hosted by the National Housing Federation. Learning was disseminated with key stakeholders in order to reflect the experiences of social landlords in shaping policy and practice.

We worked with Peabody Trust on a project to provide quality landscaping for residents whilst adapting the spaces with climate change in mind. UCL's MSc Environmental Engineering students monitored the changes and produced a green infrastructure valuation toolkit called 'Logik' that they have applied to assess the benefits of green infrastructure.

We also undertook a survey of social landlords to help us gather information about how they view and approach climate change adaptation issues and GI. The key findings were:

  • Adaptation to climate change will be an organisational priority going forward;
  • Resident demand is a key driver;
  • Landscaping is the most popular method of estate greening to address climate change impacts.