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Take action to support RetroFirst!


ACAN is supporting The Architects' Journal's RetroFirst campaign to rewrite the rules of our industry in favour of reuse and adaptation of existing buildings. Here's how you can help stop the wasteful culture of demolition and rebuild with a quick and easy action.

One reason construction consumes so much is because it is based on a wasteful economic model which often involves tearing down existing structures and buildings, disposing of the resulting material in a haphazard fashion, and rebuilding from scratch.

Will Hurst, The Architects' Journal


Over the past year The Architects' Journal has developed a solid case for why the Government needs to take immediate action to prioritise reuse and adaptation of existing buildings over demolition and rebuild. The campaign has gained support from a wide range of industry organisations such as the RIBA, RICS, TCPA, the UK Green Building Council, British Land and Arup amongst many others. Leading figures close to Government have backed the campaign.


It feels like the campaign is close to achieving changes in policy that will be vital in our fight to tackle climate breakdown. But in order to succeed it now needs your help.


Help us lobby for change by contacting your MP


Writing to your MP is easy and we have found this to be one of the most effective ways of drawing attention to the issues that we care about. Put simply, you can't expect your MP to know about how the construction industry contributes to the climate emergency until you have written to tell them about it. ACAN members have had constructive dialogues with local MPs & shadow cabinet members, about issues ranging from fabric efficiency to embodied carbon to the ban on structural timber, and these have in turn led to responses from Government ministers.


If you have just 5 minutes to spare then you can help draw your MPs attention to why retrofit is better for our planet, and ask them to support the three key demands of the campaign by lobbying ministers. Here's how;

  1. Find your MPs contact details by entering your postcode into this website

  2. Read our template letter and copy it in a new email addressed to your MP

  3. Personalise the letter a little

  4. Press send

  5. Sit back, relax and wait for a response! (this bit may take a few weeks so you could get busy with your planning reform consultation response while you wait)

Let us know who you've contacted and if you get a response by emailing mail@architectscan.org with 'RetroFirst' in the subject line, and most importantly continue the conversation with your MP.


Here's what the letter calls on your MP to do;

  • To request the Treasury cut the rate of VAT on refurbishment, repair and maintenance from 20 per cent to 5 per cent or below. This would go some way towards rebalancing the tax burden which falls upon retrofit as opposed to new build.

  • To request that the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) embed the reuse of existing buildings into the Planning for the Future reforms currently being considered. This could be achieved by adding new clauses to the National Planning Policy Framework.

  • To request that the Cabinet Office insist all publicly funded projects look to retrofit solutions first; requiring that the reuse of any existing buildings is explored as the first option on any government contracts.

These three changes would tip the balance in favour of retrofit and refurbishment and help to reduce our industry’s carbon emissions. In addition they would provide an economic boost in the drive to improve the UKs existing building stock just when its needed, and would provide a clear example of UK policy innovation on climate action ahead of COP 26.

Links

RetroFirst Campaign - The Architects' Journal

How to Calculate Embodied Carbon - IStructE

Don't demolish old buildings urge architects - BBC

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