About the build

About our grant funding

What kind of support did Lancaster Cohousing receive?

We successfully applied for a grant as part of an initiative called the Rural Carbon Challenge Fund (RCCF), which was set up to support community-level renewable energy projects across the north west of England. The RCCF was funded by Defra – the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. In order to secure the funding we needed to demonstrate that our project could do the following:

We were also successful in gaining a grant from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) which has covered part of the refurbishment of Halton Mill. RDPE was funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and its priorities were to support employment and development activities in rural areas of England.

What is the money being used for?

The heating for our homes and communal buildings is provided by a ‘district heating system’. This means that instead of having a boiler in each house, a single, highly efficient boiler, housed in the Mill building and powered by woodchip (biomass), feeds a network of radiators across the whole site via insulated pipes. The boiler is supplemented by over 50m2 of solar thermal collectors on our south-facing roofs, and the resulting system also provides domestic hot water to our kitchens and bathrooms.

District heating systems were common in other countries, but still unusual in the UK – and as far as we know this was the first district heating system in the country to combine biomass and solar thermal energy sources. The district heating model, with a single large boiler rather than many small ones, makes it much more viable to use woodchip as fuel, and we want to demonstrate how efficiently this technology can work.

Our share of the grant funding contributed to some of the costs of the new district heating system, specifically:

We met the majority of the district heating costs ourselves, including the solar thermal panels, the woodchip boiler, and the heating pipework and components (heat exchangers, storage cylinders, radiators etc) inside our homes, as well as the remaining costs of all the aspects that the grant contributed to.

Is the rest of Halton involved in this?

We obtained our grant funding in partnership with Halton Community Association (HCA). HCA’s share of the funding supported the development of community-owned hydroelectric project at Forge Weir on the River Lune – directly adjoining our site. Lancaster Cohousing buys green electricity from the scheme.

All the profits from the hydro project go back into the community. More information on the hydro scheme is available at Halton Lune Hydro.