Category Archives: Sustainable Harborough Challenge

Blogs to do with the progress of our participation in the Big Lottery funded “Sustainable Harborough Challenge”

Local Food hub named

The local food hub concept that our volunteers have been working on as part of the Sustainable Harborough project ( has now got a name.


For those of you who are not local LE16 is the main Market Harborough postcode outer. There is a holding website that has been generously designed gratis by Gordon Blunt and it is being hosted equally gratis by Codestring, a software development house in the Harborough Innovation centre. Please visit :

If you are interested in local food, be it buying or supplying then please get in contact through Jo Sharman who is the coordinating officer with the Sustainable Harborough project.


Meetings Galore!

It is all go here at Transition Towers!

Last week our volunteers attended two meetings on the proposed Eco house where Seven Locks housing is making great progress on the project. Much Kudos must go to them and the enthusiasm and commitment that has been shown for the idea by their Chief Exec Deborah Bennett and her staff. Hopefully there will be a post soon from Mark on the subject.

Also there was an initial scoping meeting with regards to community planting of edible and insect pollinator friendly areas on a housing development in town, again hopefully Judith will be able to provide feedback on that meeting.

And finally, on Friday we will be meeting with the commercial asset manager of Harborough District Council to discuss the prospects of a community farm and community owned solar PV on council buildings.

Keep checking for updates!


First Superhome meeting

Just as an update, last nights meeting was well attended with 5 staff members of Seven Locks, DMU, HDC, Oliver from the LCC and two of our Transitioners.

There is a 50’s 3 bed home that has come up and that is apparently a rare event in itself. There was much debate around the house and the objectives of the “Eco/Super home” project. The house has already been upgrades with cavity insulation and C rated double glazing (appropriate at the time of fitting but not to current building regs) and with 250mm of loft insulation.

Since it has been empty the association has installed inter floor insulation aided by the fact that the ceiling collapsed in and have taken up the concrete floor and replaced it with an insulated floor. Steve from the DMU basically said that there are no real “Cost justified” upgrades that can be made to this home as savings through reduced consumption would be dwarfed by and additional retro fit measures.

The debate moved from taking a draughty, cold and inefficient home to identifying this as probably a typical house of its type. Most will have had double glazing and many will have taken up the offer of cavity wall insulation. So the focus moved to how can we make improvements to this home that can be reproduced by Joe public… perhaps a more powerful project than a full retro-fit due to it being more typical of the average home and would need behavioral change to. The meeting voted to progress the project with this property which also has the bonus of being semi detached to allow like for like monitoring and comparison.

DMU will pressure test the house to establish its leak rate and automated monitoring equipment will be installed. It was also decided that the white goods and cooker would be pre-installed from best of breed and hopefully supplied locally.

There was then some very interesting discussions about the selected tenant and their attributes, the details of the tenancy agreement, how can the tenant be compensated for having to open their home up etc., all of which cross many rules and regulation on volunteers and when they are deemed to become an employee.

We then proceeded to set up two working groups, one to work on the physical attributes of the home headed by Kate Marshall of Seven Locks and the second to identify and recruit the appropriate tenant headed by our very own PM Gavin Fletcher. It was recognised that a group would be needed to address the garden but this was not such an immediate issue so will be addressed later. Mark or myself will represent on the house group but we did not see a need to participate on the tenant group.

The timescales are very short for the very first phase with the tenant expected to be in in 6-8 weeks.

Thanks to Sarah for attending the first half of the meeting.

Darrens Challenge Challenge

My challenge Challenge
In recognition of a new year, the commencement of the “Sustainable Harborough Challenge”, the fact that every Ounce of CO2 compounds the cumulative affect that is climate change and the timely discovery that Sustrans have fixed the exit at the Northampton end of route 6 known locally as the Brampton valley way, I have decided that I am going to attempt to regularly commute to work by bicycle.

At this point I am only going to aim for once a week with the caveat that It will also be a fair weather venture as I don’t want to complete the 18.5 mile (According to Google maps) journey and be too dishevelled before work.

View Larger Map

Why only once a week, initially fitness but until I know an accurate journey time to and from work I have the issue that I might not see my 2 year old daughter. I would have to leave before she wakes and could possibly not get home until it is nearly her bed time.

I am giving myself a week to work my bike up to speed, slime filled inner tubes and lighting will be important factors in this… lots of light to cycle in the dark on an unlit route. I have already started this process, when I bought my bike about 9 years ago the shop gave me a light unit that came without battery pack or charger. I have cobbled together a 6v 4 amp lead acid unit and an old 6v 500 mili-amp charger that took about 2 days to charge the battery from scratch with… is there a better spec for the charger or is that about right?

My first ride target date is a week today, Tuesday 15th Jan.

Sustainable Harborough project manager announcement

Transition Harborough welcomes the appointment of Gavin Fletcher as the project manager for the forthcoming “Sustainable Harborough Challenge”, as a former member of Transition Leicester we are confident that Gavin will understand the core drivers of the project as originally envisaged by the Transition Volunteers who have invested hundreds of hours in this bid.

Below is the RCC branded press release:

We are delighted to announce to partners the appointment of Gavin Fletcher as the Project Manager for the Big Lottery £1m Sustainable Harborough Challenge.

Gavin will join the RCC on 2nd January 2013 and will initially be based at Community House, 133 Loughborough Road, Leicester,  until office premises for the Sustainable Harborough Challenge are identified and secured in Market Harborough when further appointments to the project will be made.

Gavin is currently Land and Biodiversity Team Manager at Groundwork where he has gained extensive experience of biodiversity and land projects and working with community and corporate partnerships.

He has managed a team working on planting community orchards and allotments as well as broader growing projects, sustainability and biodiversity. In addition he has experience of managing the Eco House in Leicester which is run as an inspirational community hub for those who want to improve the sustainability of their lives. Gavin has extensive experience of working with volunteers as well as managing a team of 7 paid staff who between them deliver 8 projects.

Gavin was chosen from a very strong field of applicants and clearly has the right experience to manage this exciting project on behalf of the many partners and the people of Harborough. We are delighted that he will be bringing with him such wide ranging experience and enthusiasm for sustainability.

Gavin’s appointment was the unanimous decision of the partnership interview panel which consisted of Jeremy Prescott (RCC Chief Executive) Diana Cook (RCC Community Engagement Manager) Oliver Savage (Climate Action, Leicestershire County Council)  Daniel Curtis (Environment Agency) and Sarah Clarke (observer on behalf of Transition Town Market Harborough)

When asked Gavin for a quote he said:

I can’t wait to meet all the people who have put so much effort into the sustainability of Market Harborough and securing this funding so far, and working with them on this exciting project to show what can be done when people come together with a common purpose supported by lottery funding.

Whilst I have been working in sustainability and conservation for many years, this project brings all of my interests together into a project that could show the way forward for many towns in Britain.”

Please feel free to circulate the above information through your networks but please always use the Big Lottery logo (copy attached)

We will soon be arranging a partners meeting and will be  providing further details shortly.

Best wishes

Diana (RCC Leicestershire & Rutland)

Success In Big Lottery Bid For Sustainable Harborough Challenge

Success...(l to r) Chair of transition Harborough Brian Davis, group member Sarah Clarke, executive director of Seven locks Housing Deborah Bennett and committee member Gillian Baver Stock

The TRANSITION HARBOROUGH group are partners in a successful bid that has secured £1 million to transform the town into a flagship for green projects across the region.

The Rural Community Council (Leicestershire & Rutland)’s Sustainable Harborough Challenge is among 12 successful community schemes across England, awarded under the Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably programme, it has been announced.

The cash will allow Sustainable Harborough Challenge to deploy a wide range of energy saving activities, such as retro-fitting of water saving devices, a demonstration EcoHouse to monitor energy at street level, and a green deal energy retro fit company and an energy services company to expand renewable energy generation.

Money will be used to promote resilience and self-reliance through the recruitment of energy champions such as water champions providing advice on the many ways to save and re use water for garden and household utilities.

The project will even set up an enterprise for Harborough to have its own currency for visitors to spend in and around the town.

The project will also develop a self-sustaining food growing enterprise including a local food hub, community food growing ventures including cultivation of orchards, and a virtual market place for local food and suppliers.

The scheme will develop a green burial site in local woodland and will work to protect local bio diversity by maintaining and enhancing natural habitats, planting wild flowers and plants that attract bees and a variety of insects.

Encouraging shared learning for people of all ages, the scheme will provide community education, including an Eco Hub, and Eco Schools to give talks, stage events and provide training.

What do you think? What would you spend the £1m on? Have your say on this story by registering to make comments.

Sustainable Harborough Challenge will work in partnership with ten organisations including Leicestershire County Council, De Montfort University, Environment Agency, Transition Town Market Harborough, Seven Locks Housing, and Severn Trent Water.

Project manager Diana Cook said: “ We are delighted to be partnering with Transition Town Market Harborough and also Leicestershire County Council, the Environment Agency and De Montfort University.

“We want to challeneg everyone in Market Harborough to think and act in more sustainable ways. That includes residents businesses and visitors.

“We want the community to be involved so that they can plan for the future of where they live and will encourage everyone to get involved.

“It’s a great opportunity for Harborough to become the flagship sustainable town that helps other towns across the region to become more sustainable.”

Supporting the groups each step of the way will be a partnership, led by Groundwork UK and including BRE, Federation of City Farms, Energy Savings Trust and nef. It will offer advice and guidance and also establish a learning support network to capture and share learning with other communities and inform the future development of investments of BIG’s Sustainable and Resilient Communities strategy. (

The Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably programme aims to inspire people to adapt the way they live and work and connect together to reap financial, environmental and health gains.

Mick McGrath, Big Lottery Fund head for the region, said: “When we first launched this initiative at the end of last year, we wanted to ignite the imagination of communities across the East Midlands to think up innovative ways to make sustainable living like second nature, while also addressing the vital need to help the region’s vulnerable reduce their costs and improve their quality of life.

“With adverse weather affecting crops globally – which is likely to cause an increase in food prices in UK supermarkets- and with fuel bills predicted to rise this winter, now is the time to encourage people to take small steps towards sustainable living at a local level which will help people cope with these added pressures during the recession.”


26/3/2012 On Friday the third in a series of four BIG events was held to update the 30 communities that have got through the first competitive round of the “Communities Living Sustainably” fund. It was hoped that by the end … Continue reading

Communities Living Sustainably submission is invited to bid


Hi all,

Well after over a hundred hours of volunteer time by members of Transition Harborough and volunteers from VASL and Welland Park Community College our bid Expression of Interest has gone through to the second round. We hear that 217 communities applied and the shortlist, of which we are one of 30 communities to go through.

We now have just over three months in which to prepare a fully worked up project proposal to get through to the main funding of upto £1 million.

Here is the press release from our partner the Rural Community Council.


Read the Big Lottery press release here with the list of the 29 other communities selected.

Big Lottery Funding Celebration

The Rural Community Council and Transition Harborough are celebrating their successful joint bid to the Communities Living Sustainably Fund from the Big Lottery.

The two organisations in partnership with Severn Trent Water, Leicestershire County Council, Seven Locks Housing, Voluntary Action South Leicestershire and Welland Park Community College have been granted £10,000 to work in partnership with local people, councils, schools, businesses, and voluntary groups to draw up detailed plans for how their community can become greener with a chance to gain a further £1m to deliver their project ideas.

Fuel poverty, rising food prices and scarce resources are just some of the issues in the sights of BIG’s Communities Living Sustainably programme which aims to inspire people to adapt the way they live, work and connect together to reap financial, environmental and health gains.

Rural Community Council (Leicestershire and Rutland) is one of only 30 organisations chosen across the country to work with partners in Market Harborough to develop plans to build energy efficient homes, retro fitting for housing association properties, training people in energy and monetary efficiency, promoting green roofs for schools and businesses, growing and sharing food locally water saving and promotion of local crafts.

Later in the year, ten of the 30 schemes will be chosen to receive up to £1 million to deliver their ideas. The learning gained from the ten funded projects over a five-year period will be shared with other communities in England to inform and influence others on how communities can become more sustainable.

Mick McGrath, Big Lottery Fund Head of Region for East Mildands, said: “We want to support local communities to make greener choices to improve their quality of life and help them to become resilient to the changing environment. The small steps being taken by these projects will have a big impact and will hopefully spark a change in behaviour that makes sustainable living second nature to us all.”

To help them achieve their goals, a partnership led by Groundwork UK and including BRE, Federation of City Farms, Energy Savings Trust and nef has been appointed to deliver support, advice and guidance to the community partnerships. They will also establish a learning support network to capture and share learning with other communities and to inform the future development of investments in BIG’s Sustainable and Resilient Communities strategy. (

Diana Cook from the Rural Community Council said ‘This is an exciting project and a great opportunity to reinforce the work of the RCC Communities Cutting Carbon Project and further enhance great partnership working with the community in Harborough. The experience of partners and enthusiasm of the community will drive the project towards its £1m goal’

Editors Notes

Communities Living Sustainably is part of the Big Lottery Fund’s £50m Sustainable and Resilient Communities strategy that aims to encourage behaviour change amongst individuals and communities so they can cope better with the environmental, economic and social impacts of a changing climate. Vulnerable people, including those on low-incomes or older people, are less likely to cope with the negative effects of climate change such as floods and heat waves or severe cold weather.

For more information on the Big Lottery

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888 Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572 Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website:

The Rural Community Council (Leicestershire & Rutland) is a charity that works to support communities in rural areas to undertake projects that enhance the quality of life. To this end we are involved with a wide range of projects and issues, all of which are becoming of increasing importance.

For more information on the local project contact Diana Cook 0116 2689706

Communities Living Sustainably EOI submitted


Well the Transition Team have been busy Beavering away with the help of some bid partners to put together an aspirational road plan for Social Enterprise within our Community of Market Harborough.


The Big Lottery fund called the “Communities Living Sustainably” is for upto £1 million of revenue funding for five years to get social Enterprises started to undertake Climate Change mitigation and adaptation activities. 30 communities will go through to a detailed bid stage and from there only 10 communities will be awarded the final funding.


The bid has been posted and all we have to do now is wait until the 6th of March to find out if we are through to the second round. Below are some of the key elements to our bid, enjoy and we welcome your comments.


10. What experience do you and your partners have of working with your local community, residents and tenants? (150 words/1,000 characters)


The RCC specialises in community consultation and support for community organisations in rural Leicestershire. It has a proven track record of project development and management and hosts several projects at its Leicester office. It also brings specialist experience of community engagement on sustainability issues, through running the Communities Cutting Carbon project, providing a hub of support for grassroots environmental groups (incorporating training and project development support) and recent work to train community energy champions.


All other partners have experience of working with our local community and have a vast network of contacts and resources for undertaking project work. The project will involve Harboroughs leading Housing Association, the County Council, the local Volunteer Bureau, the Water Supply company, local community grassroots environmental action group and local schools


12. What are the specific climate change issues for your community that you want to address? (150 words/1000 characters)


Market Harborough is a typical historic market town, de-industrialised and with many modern estates. There are vulnerable groups of over 65’s, Blind and partially sighted, Learning disabilities,Young families, Unemployed and low wage earners


The population is over 20,000 and set to increase by 19% by 2016, with several new estates planned.

The carbon footprint and air pollution is increasing with resources and services such as water, sewage, firewood, and allotments under pressure. Local rivers, reservoirs and canals are low, with over abstraction of water at low flows. There is risk of drought and storm run off flooding, an issue for farmers, gardeners and the Town Centre.


Extremes of temperatures and rising fuel costs will impact on the residents of the large stock of aging housing.

Food is mainly from supermarkets; food security is an issue and therefore susceptibility to rising food prices.


13. What mitigation and adaptation activities would you run to meet our outcomes for this initiative? (150 words/1000 characters per outcome).


ENERGY:  ECO-HOUSE – Retrofit a rented property in partnership with Housing Association and local businesses:  providing a demonstration, information and training centre, showing monetary, water and energy saving benefits to changes in lifestyle, including: Low Cost Solid Wall Insulation; Use of well-seasoned wood fuel; Use of Local Green Energy; Water saving features. Green Deal & Energy Champions – independent energy advice from trained volunteers.

WATER: Promote Green-Roofs for commercial properties and schools. Promote Domestic water saving and storage.

COMMUNITY:  Produce Annual State Of The Town Report ; New Home Owner Booklet – Work with housing developers to produce an information booklet on living sustainably for householders.

FOOD: Locally produced food is sold at the Market; Growing and Sharing Project -collect and redistribute surplus locally grown fruit and vegetables; How to grow and store vegetables and fruit; Love Food Hate Waste Cookery Courses.


Outcome: Vulnerable people affected by the impacts of climate change are able to make greener choices to help improve their quality of life


ECO-HOUSE:House will provide basis for One Stop Shop for advice, information and training courses.  The house and creation of a garden are a live demonstration of techniques and technologies in our key areas of Energy,Water and Food. The house is adapted for sustainable disability living and requirements of vulnerable groups. House shows the benefits to people of changes in lifestyle, monetary and carbon savings.


COMMUNITY:Survey the Community to identify vulnerable households and liase with Neighbourhood Watch; Sustainability Care Champions :Trained volunteers at one stop shop or road shows and home visits give independent advice and assistance in key areas of energy, water and food; Independent Green Deal advice. Finance – Provide help with financial advice and grant applications, working with local building society and credit union who offer low cost loans


Outcome: Communities maximise the use of their assets and resources to create new economic opportunities and live more sustainably


ESTABLISH NEW COMMUNITY ENTERPRISES: Local Green Energy ESCO; Retro-fitting CIC for Green Deal installations; CIC for community Green Energy projects; CIC for fitting low water use toilets and water saving technologies

PROMOTE NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES: Agro-forestry CSA for seasoned wood production for wood stoves, planting of willow & hazel for coppicing; Local food CSA, and creation of a market garden and orchard; Re-invigorate local market; Commissioning of locally sourced foods for schools,  hospitals and care homes; Local businesses to provide products and services required for energy saving, renewable energy installations, and water conservation in retrofits and new developments; Use of local businesses and services by initiating a Harborough Pound as local currency; Investigate commercial possibilities of the Canal.

TRAINING AND RE-SKILLING OPPORTUNITIES: Provide incentives to encourage local businesses to recruit and train staff in sustainable building and renovation skills; Develop training courses in rural skills, eg. woodland management, market gardening.


Outcome: Communities have a greater understanding of natural resources and more opportunities to use them efficiently


ECO-HOUSE: House and Garden is an information and training centre for energy,water and food, showing the benefits to people of changes in lifestyle, monetary and carbon savings.

CHAMPIONS: Trained volunteers go out and promote key elements of living sustainably – energy, water and food.

WATER : Public Education : Water and waste water in home & business; Local rivers, reservoirs and canal ; Wildlife conservation; House Builders are more aware of water conservation.

ENERGY: Public Education on energy saving and renewables; Schools Energy &Water Forum: building a schools network to understand and promote green initiatives in schools

FOOD: General Education –Low carbon agriculture and bio-diversity courses; Sustainable restaurant information shared; Growing your own fruit and vegetables; Love Food, Hate Waste cookery classes

COMMUNITY: Produce booklet on sustainable living; Annual state of town report; Elders share domestic and rural skills with the young.