The Big Housing Conversation

Today’s blog comes from Cllr Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing Delivery and Homes

We are facing the need to urgently address the twin issues of the housing crisis and the climate emergency in our city. We must do both and we must ensure that we are not leaving people behind in our approach.

Bristol City Council owns and manages over 28,500 homes. The rents and service charges collected are used to provide services to the tenants and leaseholders living in these homes. They are also used to repair, maintain, and improve the homes, communal areas, blocks and estates. They can also be used to build new homes to meet housing needs.

Retrofitting Bristol’s housing stock

Over the last five years, we have invested over £42 million in retrofitting our council housing stock. This has included:

  • 6,500 homes with improved heating systems
  • 800 houses and 1,000 flats in blocks with improved external wall insulation
  • 1,000 new roofs with improved insulation
  • 2,500 double glazed replacements
  • 2,000 loft insulation top ups
  • 99% homes have double glazing and 98% of cavity walls are filled,

Our independent tenant energy advice service also saved tenants a total of £192,000 in the last financial year.

Retrofit forms an important part of the strategy. Latest estimates suggest the cost could be as high as £540 million to do what we need to our whole council housing stock. As the Mayor has recently reported, the cost to decarbonise Bristol’s economy could be as high as £9 billion. This may still be a conservative estimate.

We are signed up to support the Great Homes Upgrade, as we know that significant support will be needed from national government to deliver at scale and at the pace needed.

Help shape Bristol’s plan for housing

People in Bristol are being asked for their views to help shape the 30-year plan for providing and maintaining council homes in Bristol. Views are being sought through a survey and through the opportunity for people to select their priorities for investing in council homes by creating a suggested budget.

How do we balance our local contribution to continuing our retrofit programme alongside other priorities? We have a limited pot of money to balance a range of resident / prospective resident priorities, including maintenance, replacing kitchens and potentially bathrooms, the need to get homes built for some 16,000 families on the housing register, alongside approximately 1,000 households currently in temporary accommodation.

The choices may be seen as easy in the eyes of some, and we must ensure we are taking the time to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes when thinking about balancing the needs we are to address.

We’re asking you to let us know what your priorities would be for spending and raising the money that we need. How do we get the right balance between investing in the standard of our existing homes, investing to reduce carbon emissions, and investing to build new homes? We need your view to help shape the plan for investing in council homes across our city.

To find out more and to give your views please visit The survey will be open until Friday 3 December.

You can request a paper copy, alternative format or translated version of the survey by contacting the housing team by email at or by phone on 0117 352 1444.

Cabinet will decide whether to approve the recommended 30-year business plan in early 2022.