Last month, we announced that we’d made it onto the 2020/21 National Energy Efficiency Awards shortlist. Mitchell & Dickinson featured in two nominations: National Energy Efficiency Champion of the Year and Energy Efficiency Landlord.
Our founder, Mukti Mitchell was awarded third place in the first category, which recognises demonstrable leadership in the field of energy efficiency. The beautiful historic harbour village of Clovelly on the north Devon coast won first place in the second category, in recognition of a pioneering energy-saving insulation initiative undertaken by Mitchell & Dickinson in conjunction with the estate’s forward-thinking landlord, John Rous.
We shared the inspirational credentials that earned Mukti Mitchell his award last month, and this month we’re revealing the fascinating story behind Clovelly.
There are around 120 homes in the picturesque Clovelly estate near Bideford, most of which are Grade II-listed and nestled on a steep, inaccessible cobbled slope. The former fishing village has become a renowned tourist destination, with its retired donkeys (who used to help residents and fisherman carry loads up and down the cliff) being a perennially popular attraction.
The private estate, and properties within it, are owned by The Hon. John Rous. For nearly a decade, Mukti lived in a listed cottage on the estate. During that time, he developed a strong relationship with the landlord, who gave him permission to insulate the cottage.
Word about the benefits of insulation soon spread around the village and, in 2009, two other tenants approached Mukti to ask if he could speak to the landlord on their behalf, with a view to installing the same insulation in their homes, with them funding half and John Rous funding the other half. In 2010, they became Mitchell & Dickinson’s first clients.
Mukti advanced discussions with John Rous and initiated a pilot project on five of the estate’s properties to prove how much energy could be saved by insulating them. At the time, there were very few formal studies of this type on heritage properties, which was indicative of Mukti and John Rous’ visionary mindsets – both of whom descended from pioneering families.
John Rous inherited the village from his great-aunt, who had herself completed one of the most celebrated and extensive refurbishments of a listed village. One of her aims of the overhaul was to give the residents the prospect of an income from tourism in the wake of the decline in the local fishing industry. Her hunch was right: Clovelly was propelled onto the tourist map.
Sharing her farsighted mindset, John embarked on his own investment programme which included working with Mitchell & Dickinson on the retrofit of energy efficiency measures to the properties on the estate. His vision was a result that would benefit the residents as well as demonstrating a return on investment for the landlord, with a view to encouraging others to follow a similar path.
The works were understandably complex. Not only was access difficult, the properties themselves were unique, period and listed. They required loft insulation, room-in-roof insulation, draught proofing and secondary glazing. All 120 properties were successfully completed in phases and led to meaningful benefits to both the landlord and tenants. You can find out more about the works themselves by reading our project case study here.