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Preston Water Efficiency Initiative (2009)

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This report evaluates the outcomes of the Preston Water Efficiency Initiative, an innovative water demand-management project carried out in Preston, Surrey. Its aim was to reduce domestic water consumption in social housing and to provide recommendations for future retrofitting programmes. 160 dwellings, a school, and a leisure centre were fitted water-efficient devices. 205 water-efficient devices were retrofitted, while a pilot rainwater harvesting system was installed in twelve flats. This was combined with a promotional and awareness building campaign. According to the report, significant water savings were achieved through installing water-saving devices, such as 14 % through retrofit devices and 25 % through dual flush toilets and showers.

Executive summary

The Preston Water Efficiency Initiative piloted an innovative water demand-management project that aimed to

  • Reduce levels of water consumption of tenants living in social housing; and
  • Provide recommendations for future retrofitting of water efficiency devices in existing stock.The project was initiated and coordinated by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council with funding from the Government’s New Growth Points Programme, and was delivered in partnership with Raven Housing Trust, Sutton and East Surrey Water, the Environment Agency, Surrey County Council and Waterwise.The initiative was undertaken in Preston, Surrey, and had a number of key components:
  • The installation of new dual flush toilets and water efficient showers to 160 dwellings as part of anenhanced Decent Homes programme;
  • The retrofitting of water efficiency devices, such as a dual flush conversion product and a leakagealarm, to 205 properties that were not part of the Decent Homes programme;
  • The installation of a pilot rainwater harvesting system to a block of twelve flats, which also receiveda bathroom refurbishment;
  • The fitting of water efficiency devices in a school and leisure centre, including urinal controls, pushtaps and new dual flush toilets; and,
  • A limited promotional and awareness campaign, including outreach work, information leaflets,giveaways and discount vouchers.The initiative showed that
  • Significant water savings can be achieved through the installation of water efficiency devices toexisting social housing stock;
  • These savings were made despite tenants not having any financial incentive to reduce their waterconsumption, for all tenants were unmeasured and paid for water as part of their rent;
  • Retrofit devices reduced water use by 14 percent providing the best value for money savings;
  • The installation of dual flush toilets and showers, as part of a Decent Homes programme, resultedin 25 percent water savings and provided relatively good value for money savings;
  • Rainwater harvesting only showed an additional 5 percent savings, provided poor value for moneyand experienced a range of technical issues in installation and maintenance; and,
  • All water savings made by tenants resulted from using devices that did not alter lifestyle and inmost cases actually enhanced lifestyles.The principal recommendations of the initiative are that
  • The installation of water efficiency measures, such as showers and dual flush toilets, should beprovided as standard, as part of any future Decent Homes programme;
  • Registered Social Landlords and housing providers should, wherever possible, seek to install simpleretrofit water efficiency measures that are quick and easy to fit and cost effective;
  • Due to the technical and maintenance issues experienced and the relatively poor value for money,the installation of rainwater harvesting to existing housing is not recommended; and,
  • Wherever possible aerated showerheads and tap inserts should also be installed to reduce bothwater and energy consumption.



This report seeks to evaluate the success of the Preston Water Efficiency Initiative. It outlines the aims of the initiative, how it was delivered and the lessons that have been learnt, and provides recommendations for the future refurbishment and retrofitting of water efficiency devices in social housing.

New Growth Points

In December 2005, the Government announced the launch of its New Growth Points (NGP) initiative. New Growth Points is designed to provide support to local communities who wish to pursue large scale and sustainable growth, including new housing, through a partnership with Government.

NGP status is not a statutory designation but a relationship between central government and local partners that is built on four key principles:

  • early delivery of housing as part of the growth plans;
  • supporting local partners to achieve sustainable growth;
  • working with local partners to ensure that infrastructure and service provision keep pace withgrowth; and,
  • ensuring effective delivery.In 2006 local partners were asked to submit strategic growth proposals which were sustainable, acceptable environmentally and realistic in terms of infrastructure to be assessed by Government and its agencies.Twenty-nine local authorities and partnerships across England were awarded NGP status, commencing a long-term partnership for growth with Government. Reigate and Banstead Borough Council was one of these partners and was awarded funding for three key projects:
  • Redhill Accessibility, which included the refurbishment of Redhill bus station and the production of a microsimulation model;
  • A23 Decongestion, which extended the Fastway 100 service from Horley to Redhill; and, the
  • Preston Resource Demand Project, which later was renamed the Preston Water Efficiency Initiative.Background to PrestonLocated in the north west of the borough, Preston lies approximately two kilometres southwest of Banstead Village and three kilometres south east of Epsom town centre. Importantly, Preston is also situated within the London Fringe Sub-region, an area that has considerable development pressure, due to its proximity to London, its economic strength and the quality of the local environment.Reigate and Banstead Borough Council has designated four regeneration areas, namely Horley, Redhill, Merstham and Preston. The Preston regeneration area encompasses a residential neighbourhood of circa 2,800 dwellings, many of which were built in the 1950s as social housing, but now includes a number of modern infill housing schemes.The regeneration area includes approximately 500 dwellings that are owned and managed by Raven Housing Trust, a local registered social landlord. The dwellings include a combination of houses and flats, including semi detached and terraced houses and blocks of flats with either nine or twelve dwellings per block. These dwellings provided the focus for this initiative.The Borough and Surrey County Council is committed to working with their partners including Raven Housing Trust, to bring about major social and physical regeneration in Preston. It is envisaged that this regeneration will include the upgrade of existing housing stock, the building of an exemplar sustainable development of new homes and a community hub on two key sites, as well as significant environmental improvements.

Aims of the Preston Water Efficiency Initiative

The principal aim of the Preston Water Efficiency Initiative was to pilot an innovative water demand- management project in Preston, Surrey that

• Reduced levels of water consumption of tenants living in social housing through
o the installation of a pilot rainwater harvesting system, refurbishing bathrooms and

retrofitting water efficiency equipment and devices to existing properties; and
o A small scale and complementary awareness campaign to help change people’s attitudes

towards water consumption.
• Provided a series of lessons learnt and recommendations for future retrofitting of water efficiency

measures in social housing.

As such it is hoped that the initiative will help to provide increased headroom to support the delivery of new homes, as well as limiting the eco-footprint of new and existing development in order to minimise climate change.


The principal project partners in the Initiative were Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, Raven Housing Trust, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Waterwise, the Environment Agency and Surrey County Council.

A Project Steering Group was set up at the beginning of the Initiative to provide overall strategic guidance, ensure it achieved its aims and objectives and to oversee delivery. The Steering Group comprised of representatives from Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, Sutton and East Surrey Water, Raven Housing Trust, Waterwise and the Environment Agency.

A separate Project Team was formed to undertake the majority of the day to day delivery of the initiative including tendering out of work, liaison with contractors, tenant liaison and monitoring and review. The Project Team included representatives from Raven Housing Trust’s Asset Management team, as well as a dedicated Water Conservation Officer to coordinate work and liaise with tenants. Representatives of the Project Team also included Sutton and East Surrey Water and Waterwise who provided specialist advice and analysis.


Project planning was carried out between January and March 2007, which firstly included the preparation of a development brief and feasibility document. The main delivery of the project commenced in April 2007 and was completed by May 2008. Monitoring of data took place until February 2009.