North York Moors National Park Action Plan

Scarborough Borough Council have shared a project report that builds in key learning from the LRAP training programme that aims to outline prioritised retrofit activities, locations, funding options, and community engagements, and identify actions that need to be taken in partnership with National Park Authorities.

This case study is a part of the LGA's Regional Retrofit Action Planning programme (LRAP)

Design Code Guidance on Climate Change and Retrofitting of Traditional Buildings Proposal

Purpose of project

  • Provision of expert advice and compilation of engaging, non-technical guidance on building-related climate change issues, including the sensitive retrofit of traditional buildings.
  • This will form part of the New North York Moors Design Guide/Code: A design code is a set of simple, concise, illustrated design requirements that are visual and numerical wherever possible to provide specific, detailed parameters for the physical development of a site or area. It sets a baseline standard of quality and practice which local planning authorities are expected to consider when developing local design codes and guides and when determining planning applications.
  • We wish to present a strong ‘statement of case’ for why renewable energy generation and retrofit in traditional buildings can be achieved cost effectively as possible whilst protecting the character of very sensitive landscapes.
  • The primary audience will be homeowners wanting to put in place out simple measures to improve the energy efficiency and performance of buildings. We also wish to establish a strong evidence base on the ‘art of the possible’ with a view to removing any perceived barriers to funding arising from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to retrofit.

The issue

  • Specific guidance is needed on how sources of renewable energy (ground and air source heat pumps, solar, wind generation etc.) can be incorporated in the historic building stock in a way that is sensitive to National Park purposes.
  • Within the North York Moors there is a high percentage of solid wall constructed dwellings. These are buildings constructed of solid natural stone or brick (usually pre-1919 buildings) and includes both listed and non-listed buildings as well as those within conservation areas. Current retrofit solutions can be inappropriate for traditional stone wall constructed buildings.
  • Addressing the thermal performance of this type of wall presents a real challenge to improving thermal performance with many of the mainstream retrofit products offered not suited to traditional buildings. This potentially leads to homeowners carrying out alterations which provide no improvements or benefits to the thermal efficiency of the building and, in worse case scenarios, could lead to a worse situation than before (a dry building is a warm building).
  • Government-promoted retrofit schemes take a one size fits all approach assuming what works for buildings of modern construction will also work for traditional buildings. Building Conservation Officers see inappropriate works daily being carried out including tanking of wall, damp proof courses, cement. There is a risk that a large proportion of the building stock of the North York Moors is simply being ‘left out’ of current funding measures on the grounds that it is seen as too hard, too expensive, or just not possible.
  • Appropriate and sensitive measures to improve the thermal efficiency of stone wall constructed buildings often don’t have a u-value attached to them and therefore do not meet industry standards. This pushes homeowners to carry out mainstream retrofit works which will only harm the building and its performance.
  • There is a vast amount of information out there on this which makes it hard for homeowners to work through and understand.
  • We do not want old buildings to be seen as an obstacle to climate change adaption and we wish to see the North York Moors as a leader/exemplar of good practice in the use of renewable energy technologies and retrofit techniques in our older housing stock.

Possible content to overcome issues and to meet the purpose of the project

  • Explanation of the energy hierarchy – energy reduction, energy efficiency, renewable energy, low-carbon energy, conventional energy and how this can be applied, including the whole life cycle and the circular economy (Government initiatives focus on performance in use, not embedded energy and whole life cycles with no regard for carbon construction of manufacturing new installations, demolition, or disposal.)
  • The fabric first approach including proper maintenance.
  • Summary on how traditional stone buildings perform (building pathology).
  • Behaviour – explaining the way buildings are used and impact on energy use.
  • Materials, including simple measures which could be taken to improve performance of stone wall constructed buildings (lime render where appropriate, lime pointing, lime plaster (hemp lime), overhauling single glazed windows rather than replacement with DG, roof insulation (approaches to hot and cold roofs), approaches to floor insulation – solid or suspended) and why these measures/materials are the most appropriate. 
  • Building services e.g., boilers and how improvements can be made.
  • Brief mention that Building Regs include exemptions to buildings of traditional construction with permeable fabric – recognition of these types of buildings.
  • Potential of overheating – warmer wetter weather. Issues are not just about making properties warmer.
  • Guidance on the sensitive deployment of renewable energy technologies in the historic building stock. 
  • Specific guidance on retrofit for:
    • Roofs and ceilings.
    • Windows and doors.
    • Walls.
    • Floors.
    • Paints.
    • Energy, air, and water (including solar and heat pumps).


  • Guidance covering the ‘Climate Change & Resources’ section.
  • Guidance to be present in a web friendly format – i.e., brief, bullet points etc.
  • Guidance to be presented in a way that can use pictures/diagrams to explain the approach – possibly as a ‘whole house toolkit?’.
  • Guidance to be presented to a non-technical audience - principally at homeowners.