Sustainable Merton participated with Merton Council, national environmental charity Groundwork London and others to engage the residents of the Phipps Bridge Estate in one of the Mayor of London’s ten Low Carbon Zones. The three-year project ended in 2012.

A Low Carbon Zone is an exciting, community-led approach to cutting CO2 emissions. Ten boroughs, including Merton, won support and funding from the Mayor of London to create local zones. The intention was to provide examples that could be rolled out both within and beyond London, paving the way to a cleaner, greener future.

Sustainable Merton’s role in the zone focused on public engagement. We hosted many events, some at the neighbouring Phipps Bridge Community Garden.

Green Doctors at Friends of Phipps Bridge Fun Day
Green Doctors at Friends of Phipps Bridge Fun Day

The main achievement of the project was visiting 830 homes in the Low Carbon Zone with the Green Doctor scheme, just 30 short of the target set at the beginning of the project. Through the Green Doctor scheme, residents saved a massive £50,558 a year on their energy bills and 834 tonnes of CO2 is saved each year. With the schools, we installed solar panels on Haslemere and Benedict primary schools, and water saving measures was installed at Haslemere Primary School and Melrose School.

One of the big successes of the project was the creation of the Friends of Phipps Bridge; they are a community association created in early 2011 focusing on local social aspirations. The group has been well received in the area and run events such as litter picks with the local school, eco-focused training and their successful summer event. The event saw over 400 people turn up to share food, have fun in the games and races and listen to live music; as the event was well received by the community the first year, they ran another event this year.

Draught proofing at Mitcham Parish Church
Draught proofing at Mitcham Parish Church

Other highlights include the draught proofing day at Mitcham Parish Church which saw faith groups and local residents come together to share new skills and get to know each other. The refurbishment of the South Mitcham Community Centre was another success, as the hub of the community it was important for them to lead the way and in the times of cuts was good news for them to have savings of around £2420 a year.

As part of the project, the project partner’s hosted 11 young people in Future Job Fund placements that were given a 6 month paid placement with the project and its partners. Six months after their placements have finished nine of the young people have found a job either full or part time and two young people have returned to further education, this is in contrast to national figures which saw 40% of participants reclaiming job-seekers within seven months of their placement.
One of the good things to come out of the project was to find out that 18 months after a Green Doctor visit, 95% of those surveyed considered themselves either fairly or very aware of environmental issues, 92% remembered the advice given and 85% still had the information pack they were give. All of those that were surveyed reported that they had stuck to their behaviour pledges.

You can find the full report by Merton council on the Wandle Valley Low Carbon Zone webpage.