Work is progressing at an innovative renovation and expansion project to create high quality, sustainable homes for local residents and for people in need of temporary housing in the St Albans District.

Morgan Sindall Construction’s Northern Home Counties business is delivering the retrofitting scheme at Ridgeview Lodge for St Albans City and District Council through the Pagabo Major Works Framework. The Pagabo framework, which launched in April 2020, is a £10 billion, six-year scheme that aims to deliver large-scale construction projects across the UK.

The project will see the complete refurbishment of two blocks built in the 1980s into contemporary, environmentally friendly apartment buildings. Each building will contain a mix of ten one, two and three-bedroom apartments, with one block being overseen by the council to act as temporary housing for homeless people and the other block being reserved for private rental.

To ensure a high quality of life for the residents, each apartment will be comprehensively retrofitted, including with new kitchens, bathrooms and fittings. As part of the buildings’ modernisation, a number of sustainable materials and technologies will be utilised.

To provide energy efficient housing for the local community, Morgan Sindall Construction will be carrying out thermal upgrades to all exterior walls, replacing the current insulation with a highly efficient alternative.

Each apartment will also benefit from renewable energy generation thanks to onsite solar panels as well as air source heat pumps that will avoid the need for fossil fuel powered solutions to provide warmth. Retrofitting these technologies into the apartments will dramatically cut utility bills as well as make the site more environmentally friendly by significantly reducing carbon emissions.

Externally, electric vehicle charging points will be installed in the car park to encourage residents to utilise green transport options.

David Rowsell, area director at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: “We are delighted to be delivering the Ridgeview Lodge refurbishment and expansion, which will not only provide the local community with much-needed housing, but which will also create accommodation for those in the area who need it the most.

“The importance of retrofitting our homes and buildings instead of tearing them down and building new ones was highlighted by the Royal Academy of Engineering recently. Their report pointed out that the high level of embodied carbon in the structures around us means it is imperative that we use buildings for as long as possible in order to avoid unnecessarily increasing carbon emissions.

“This project is a great example of how existing buildings can be repurposed and turned into high quality spaces that meet demanding environmental standards. The technology, techniques and expertise we’ve brought to this project has prolonged the life of the building, cutting down on emissions while providing the area with valuable, sustainable and energy efficient residential provision.”

Councillor Robert Donald, Chair of the Business and Regeneration Committee of St Albans City and District Council, said: “This is another major building project that we are delivering for the benefit of those with different housing needs in our community. We realised Ridgeview had lain empty and neglected for many years at a time when the District has been crying out for more rented accommodation including social housing.

“This regeneration project will provide both much-needed flats for the private rental market as well as high-quality temporary accommodation for homeless people until a permanent home is found for them.

“This new temporary housing will reduce the amount of people we may have to place in hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation with shared living conditions. Not only is this provision expensive for the Council but it really isn’t the best form of accommodation to provide vulnerable children and adults for any length of time. The refurbished Ridgeview flats will instead provide a real home each with their own separate kitchen and other normal essential facilities.

“In addition, income from the privately rented flats will support our budget which is under intense pressure following the pandemic.

“In furthering another of our top priorities to tackle the climate emergency, we have worked closely with Morgan Sindall to ensure the development meets high standards of sustainability and energy efficiency. Among the features included in these properties are solar panels which generate renewable energy and air source heat pumps, rather than gas boilers, which greatly reduce harmful CO2 and other emissions.

“In transforming existing buildings rather than demolishing them to create new ones, we are also setting an example of a first-class redevelopment project that the District can be proud will be available for rent locally.”

Throughout the project, Morgan Sindall Construction has worked closely with the local schools and colleges to provide work experience placements for students enrolled on built environment courses.
All current residents of Ridgeview Lodge, in London Colney, have been moved into temporary accommodation for the duration of the project, which aims to be complete by the end of 2021.