Project Case Study: Coventry Wave 1


In 2021, as their demonstrator project neared completion, Citizen Housing Group Ltd began to formulate their requirements for delivery of a Wave 1 SHDF project, targeted towards approx. 100 of their solid wall portfolio in Coventry.

Taking a fabric-first ‘plus’ approach, with initiatives evolved from the demonstrator, Citizen invited tenders for a purposeful package of improvements to transform the homes of customers in some of their hardest to heat stock.

Measures included:

  • Application of a high spec. EWI system, incorporating 150mm of mineral wool insulation.
  • Full compliance with PAS 2019 detailing including bringing forward windows to minimize cold bridging, insulating below DPC, etc.
  • The extension of all eaves and verges as necessary, inc. renewal of all roofline plastics and the upgrade of eaves ventilation systems.
  • Review and upgrade of space ventilation, to ensure that all background, intermittent and purge rates are as necessary for a comfortable and healthy internal environment.

As well as setting an ambitious performance specification in order to futureproof the properties, Citizen coordinated their window/door renewal programme, their loft top-up and their mechanical ventilation upgrade programme, all into one circa £2M project.

Following a successful tender, Westdale Midlands Ltd (WML), in partnership with Citizen, began the project in May 2022.

Though very experienced in the sector, this was the first time WML had delivered a system with 150mm thick insulation, and as can be imagined, this thickness had an impact on much of the detailing and decision-making throughout.

It is well known by now that the PAS2035 process requires a different level of professional involvement, to ensure that projects are well considered, decisions are properly informed, measures are coordinated with future plans and a testing regime confirms, or otherwise, the effectiveness of the works.

Any successful project therefore needs to pull together a variety of contributors, and this is the first success story in Citizen’s Wave 1 Project.

Retrofit Assessors and Coordinators – CC-Ltd and Retrofit Designers – Property Tectonics, were appointed by Citizen and along with WML, who quickly came together as a team. In addition, BDA Ltd undertook asbestos surveys and ProFrame fabricated and installed new windows and doors to programmes developed by WML.

Working closely with the system supplier, SPS Envirowall, many new details were developed specifically to accommodate for the significant thickening of the walls, and a great deal of work went into agreeing the detailing around the extending and renewing of the roofline, working adjacent to untreated properties and generally preparing existing fixtures and fittings.

All parties committed to resolving the myriad of ongoing technical issues in a way that allowed a speedy ongoing progress. In fact, regular visits from members of BEIS commented several times of their surprise regarding the progress of the project.

To add to the challenge, the client, in conjunction with Coventry City Council’s Planning Department, set the challenge to minimize the aesthetic effect of the works on the architectural heritage of their solid brick-built stock.

Whilst many of the architypes are commonplace in Coventry, they display a timeless architectural style, in keeping with their era and display an aesthetic that is certainly worth protecting as best as possible within the streetscape.

In fact, evidence of the potential to destroy any aesthetic value and heritage is sadly demonstrated by a myriad of previous EWI attempts by other installers, many of which show little thought or respect and serve only to damage the reputation of the industry.

Our challenge is to ensure that this perception is reversed and to show that giving due consideration to addressing the UK’s carbon neutral ambitions need not be at the expense of it’s architectural heritage.

WML were ideally placed to meet this challenge, utilising our patented ArtBrick finish to closely match the finish of the original property, along with a host of other finishes, including: dash, texture, smooth painted render and composite shiplap cladding; all in a way which sees the refurbished properties blend as seamlessly as possible and almost invisibly into the streetscape, once complete.

Formal Planning Applications were submitted as required by the Local Authority before works commenced, and whilst there was a uniformity of products, designs varied considerably throughout the project.

With the project needing to comply with all requirements of PAS 2035, not only were tenderers required to be able to demonstrate technical abilities, it was also crucial that the process for evaluation and decision making, evidence gathering, testing and record keeping were appropriate for lodgment and application for grant funding. We utilised unrivalled software applications to perform on-site contemporary installation checks throughout the progress of the works, which also capture photographic evidence of the specification compliance, that are a vital part of the Trustmark submissions.

It may seem odd to argue that the success of a scheme is measured by how invisible it is, but this we believe is what was important in this instance and, we hope, is demonstrated by the images of typical properties before and after, and in relation to others in the street.

We further believe that few projects commenced from a standing start and with the challenges rightly set by their client, were completed as successfully during SHDF Wave 1.

Setting themselves up in new premises in the heart of Coventry, WML were able to reduce the environmental impact of delivering the works, employ local labour and, through a constant emphasis on waste reduction, efficient processes and exemplary Customer Care practices, were able to further demonstrate commitment to improving the industry and the community.

Westdale would like to thank Citizen Housing for the opportunity to meet their challenge, but also to CC-Ltd, Property Tectonics and BDA Ltd without whom the project might not have been so successful.