Engaging the community and accelerating action in the face of the intensifying impacts of the climate emergency is the focus for many local authorities around the UK. Waltham Forest London Borough Council launched its climate action strategy in 2008 and has been taking effective action. But with the declaration of a climate emergency in 2019, there was recognition that they needed to do more and do it faster.

In response to this, Arup was appointed to bring additional multidisciplinary expertise and experience to the borough’s Climate Emergency and Behaviour Change department. Our team also developed a climate action plan that clearly outlined how the borough would reach net zero by 2030, while building resilience to climate change.

The climate action plan is a blend of innovative and tried-and-tested solutions designed to take the London Borough of Waltham Forest to the next stage of implementation. From retrofitting fuel poor homes to expanding access to shared transport options, the plan aims to decarbonise and regenerate the borough, while building its resilience to future climate impacts.

Environmental consulting

Our multidisciplinary team of climate specialists, economists, user experience designers, mobility, nature and energy experts gathered data and analysed the key sources of carbon emissions that are generated across the borough to create a baseline. This helped to quantify the scale of the challenge, pinpoint where to focus and identify what would be needed in terms of resources, political will and collective community effort to realise the borough’s ambitions. 

Drawing on the feedback from resident engagements and our experience of what other UK and international local governing bodies have found effective, we collaboratively prioritised the actions to narrow the focus on what would deliver the best outcomes for the investment.

The result was the development of a climate action plan with 20 impactful actions. These focused on improving the energy efficiency of buildings, prioritising people over cars, consuming less and recycling more, and creating a greener, more resilient borough. 

A key issue to address was the need to retrofit all fuel poor homes to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their fuel bills in the face of a growing cost of living crisis. We drew upon our experience in the built environment and our work with other projects and organisations working in this field – such as BEIS, 3CIS, and the Green Finance Institute – to help shape approaches to retrofit throughout the borough. The plan’s actions included offering retrofit loans for homes and delivering retrofits for all fuel poor homes that help to elevate their energy performance. 

Arup has helped us to create a Climate Action Plan that will be of immediate, tangible benefit to our community. From green jobs and growth of the local economy to more active and happy lives, the Plan is ultimately a regeneration plan that builds on our local strengths. It will enable us to work together across the borough to continue to adapt and become more resilient to these climate impacts, while reducing emissions to avoid the worst of them.

Luke Ravenscroft

Director of Climate Emergency and Behaviour Change, London Borough of Waltham Forest Council

Masterplanning and urban design

Committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030, Waltham Forest Council sees climate action as part of improving the health and prosperity of its residents, especially in face of the cost of living crisis. As well as retrofitting all fuel poor homes, the climate action plan includes redistributing surplus food to community provisions such as food banks and social supermarkets, establishing a Library of Things in every library, repurposing nine car parks for alternative uses such as affordable housing and parks and expanding access to shared transport options.

Climate action must resonate with those that it influences: the communities living and working in this borough. As such, the plan created a dynamic and visual thriving vision of what a climate friendly Waltham Forest might look like in 2030. Bringing the plan to life is a first, crucial step to advancing adoption of its actions by council leaders, residents, and businesses throughout the borough.