Social housing  |  22 Apr 2020

A programme to install heat pumps in hundreds of social housing homes around Christchurch will resume under Alert Level 3.

Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust (OCHT) and Christchurch City Council will restart work on the Warm and Dry programme once the country shifts to Alert Level 3 next Tuesday.

The programme will see heat pumps installed in 909 priority homes managed by OCHT.

The Warm and Dry Initiative was placed on hold on 25 March, following advice from public health officials that installations should stop to ensure tenant and contractor safety.

At that point, 340 heat pumps had been installed in homes.

 "The Trust is pleased we can restart the Warm and Dry Initiative. Our focus is to make up time and warm up the 909 priority homes for our tenants by installing heat pumps as safely as we can,’’ says OCHT Chief Executive Cate Kearney.

The Trust is confident it can complete the installations in the priority homes before winter, provided the country remains at Alert Level 3 or lower.

The planned ventilation programme will be deferred to enable the Trust to complete work on heat pump installations. All tenants will be informed of the updated programme.

The safety of tenants and installers has been paramount for the Trust and the Council, Ms Kearney says.

“During the last four weeks we have developed safe working guidelines, had these reviewed by CDHB, and we are now working with our contractors to ensure that installation occurs as safely as possible. The guidelines will keep our tenants and contractors safe and ensure physical distancing.”

Christchurch City Council Head of Facilities, Property and Planning Bruce Rendall is thrilled the programme can restart under Alert Level 3.

“We’re very conscious that temperatures are starting to drop so we are really determined to get these heat pumps installed by the winter so our tenants can live more comfortably over the colder months.

“At the same time, resuming this programme of work now means ongoing work for businesses and contractors can start to happen sooner rather than later, contributing to early economic benefits for the city post-Alert Level 4.

“Ideally we would be doing the ventilation work at the same time, but the COVID-19 lockdown means we have had to make some changes to the delivery of the Warm and Dry Initiative.  The priority for now is getting the heat pumps installed, and we will look to do the ventilation work later in the year,’’ Mr Rendall says.