Friday, 9 July 2010

Zero Carbon Dalby Square Proposal

Hot off the press comes a radical proposal for Dalby Square from Heritage Development Officer, Nick Dermott.
Here's a scheme worth discussing. Take it away, Nick:

I believe that the much discussed huge problems that beset Cliftonville West can only be solved by a radical solution. As a suggestion, I set down a proposal below. Your comments and assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Full Council is to decide on 15th July whether to designate Dalby Square, and Arthur and Dalby Roads, Cliftonville as a conservation area. Conservation areas are defined as *areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance*.

With two notable exceptions, the sites of the former Cliftonville Hotel and the site of the former Warrior Crescent, the external appearance of the properties in Dalby Square, and Arthur and Dalby Roads, remain very much as
they were when the area was built in the 1870s (a time when the British Empire was at its height). The buildings facing the square itself were built as hotels or private schools, not as houses. The standard design is of four to five storeys high, including a semi-basement, and is in the region of 500sqm floor area. The considerable size of these structures is a major contributory cause of the present situation. At the same time, the historic
building stock represents a huge resource of embodied energy. There are no listed buildings within the proposed conservation area and they are unlikely to be listed in the future. This is in no way to say they are not of
historic interest.

That the Dalby Square conservation area be developed as a *zero carbon community*. The aim would be to preserve the historic appearance of the buildings and neighbourhood, and the historic fabric of the buildings, while
drastically reducing energy consumption (ie. creating 'low energy impact*). This would be achieved by retro-fitting the
buildings with very high levels of insulation (including appropriate double or triple glazing), air management systems, rainwater collection arrangements and possibly the use of district heating systems, heat pumps and solar and wind energy * the square faces the site of the London Array wind farm. The project would also encompass public lighting, transport strategies, power for electric cars and the development of public open space.

Although the external appearance of the historic buildings would be maintained, the interiors would be drastically remodelled to form large (in excess of 100msq), modern units. Some might also be hotels or guest houses.
Some of these units might be developed through a *shared ownership* scheme. It would be a big *lifestyle concept* that would fire peoples* imagination.

The proposal would be progressed by a DESIGN CODE and a GRANT SCHEME.

The Technology Strategy Board is promoting a competition for funding entitled *Design for Future Climate: Adapting Buildings*. This offers 100% grants of £100,000 to develop strategies to adapt UK buildings to the changing climate. The adaptation of an existing Dalby Square conservation area historic building to create a *low energy impact guest house* conforms to the rules of the application. Daedalus Environmental Limited of Maidstone wish to work with the Council, free of charge, on a submission for this competition. Submissions need to be with the Technology Strategy Board by 22nd July 2010.

I have been working with the Prince*s Regeneration Trust * who assisted Thanet District Council with funding for Dreamland * on the development of a Heritage Lottery Fund *Townscape Heritage
Initiative* grant scheme for Dalby Square. £2m would be sought from the Lottery, which would have to be matched 50/50. Grants would be given for the restoration of the exteriors of the historic buildings as well as public
realm projects, open spaces and boundary treatments. Grant recipients would be required to sign up to the design code prepared with the competition funding. There is £25,000 in the TDC Capital Budget to develop a new
historic building grant scheme and this seems a suitable candidate.

The scheme could also put significant funds (£1m?) towards a building on the Warrior Crescent site at the south end of Dalby Square which is owned by TDC. Warrior Crescent, a terrace of seven five storey houses built in the
1870s and demolished in the 1990s, was the major architectural event in the square and any new building on the site needs to be of the correct scale and of the highest architectural quality.

For the proposals to proceed, it is necessary for Full Council to designate Dalby Square as a conservation area.
In order to enter the competition it is necessary to identify a building with the proposed conservation area to be the subject of the study. The building does not need to be owned by TDC nor, if I understand the rules of
the competition correctly, does the conversion of the building need to be actually carried out. However, the owner of the building needs to sign up to the scheme and *participate and consider the recommendations of the adaption
design work*. The former Warren Court Hotel in Arthur Road would be ideal. I believe that the building is owned by the Town and Country Housing Group. I have no contacts at Town and Country so I need someone*s help. Because of
the competition deadline there is some urgency over this. Approval from Thanet District Council is needed to use the £25,000 Capital Fund money on developing the THI scheme.

Attachments: -
- Map, proposed conservation area.
- Technology Strategy Board competition blurb
- Letter from the Prince*s Regeneration Trust
- Photographs of the former Warrior Crescent

Yours sincerely,
Nick Dermott.

Nick Dermott BA (Hons) Dip Arch RIBA IHBC Heritage Development Advisor
Major Developments Team Thanet District Council PO Box 9 3rd Floor Cecil
Street Margate Kent CT9 1XZ

Tel: 01843 577142


  1. Absolutely brilliant proposal!

  2. I agree, I think it's a fantastic idea. I've recently been thinking about insulating a historic property, and have been told by a surveyor that bc the building was built to breathe, insulation could actually cause lots of problems in the long term. It sounds like this TSB scheme aims to provide enough resource to think about this kind of complexity, which is brilliant. If anyone happens to know anything about this, or could point toward places to find out more, I'd certainly be grateful to know!