Vicarage Lane project rakes in praise

Wealden’s District Council’s refurbished council offices in Hailsham have just been awarded an “excellent” rating for sustainability by BREEAM, a leading international building assessor.

Vicarage Lane’s “excellent” rating is rare for a refurbishment and puts Weaden’s offices in the same class as British Land’s 199 Bishopsgate building and the National Trust’s Stable Block at Morden Hall.

Gavin Dunn, Director of BREEAM at BRE Global said, “Congratulations to Wealden District Council. It is a real achievement to score BREEAM Excellent, especially for a refurbishment.”

The council had originally been looking at the possibility of building a brand new office for its joint Hailsham and Crowborough workforce but opted to save public money by refurbishing the existing 1980s Vicarage Lane premises. It still wanted to create a much more sustainable building, reducing running costs, greenhouse gas emissions and improving the local environment. The ambitious project also included the Hailsham Community Hall which was in need of modernising and required a new roof. By creating a shared space as a Civic Community Hall, the refurbishment provided an improved community facility which is also used for council meetings.

Cllr Graham Wells said, “We are very excited to be one of the few refurbishment projects to be good enough to win an “excellent” rating under the international BREEAM assessment. We are now leaving a smaller footprint in the environment. Refurbishing our existing building did create more of a challenge, but the result is a 21st century workplace we can be proud of.

“We are throwing down the gauntlet to those developers with new projects in Wealden now and in the next few years, and asking them to push their green credentials even further.”

Photovoltaic panels and a passive ventilation system feature in this building, as does a Green Travel Plan to reduce traffic congestion for staff, improved bicycle facilities, air source heat pumps, savings on internal and external lighting, re-use of building materials and lower water consumption.