A MILLION-pound project to transform the town into a flagship for green projects across the region is looking forward to making strides in 2013.
The Sustainable Harborough Challenge group has received pledges of help from Seven Locks Housing, which is identifying spaces within its housing schemes across the town which can be given over to plant community food growing ventures, including small orchards.
The social landlord will also fit a house with the latest in green technology - including renewable heating systems, water saving devices and insulation – to serve as an example “eco-house” to show people what is possible.
Sustainable Harborough Challenge is also looking into the possibility of working with Gartree Prison in a scheme which would see inmates grow food within its walls to contribute to a community food hub.
Other schemes being put forward as part of the project include the development of a Harborough currency, renewable energy projects in the community, bulk-buyer groups to get a better deal for residents with energy companies, and a community champions initiative, which would see a team of volunteers set up to advise people on how to save energy.
Diana Cook, of the Rural Community Council (RCC) for Leicestershire and Rutland, which helped secure the £1m fund for the town, said: “There are lots of things that people can get involved in, from small scale things such as retro-fitting energy and water saving devices in their homes, to helping out with larger scale projects.
“We want the community to be involved so that they can plan for the future.
“It is a great opportunity for Harborough.”
The project began when the volunteer group Transition Town Market Harborough launched a bid to the Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably programme.
They secured the money earlier this year with the help of the RCC.
The Sustainable Harborough Challenge is working in partnership with 10 organisations including Leicestershire County Council, De Montfort University, the Environment Agency, The Transition Town group, Seven Locks, and Severn Trent Water.
It appointed a project manager, Gavin Fletcher, last month, and he is due to start work in January.
Mr Fletcher’s first task will be to secure offices in Harborough and recruit a small team of staff to help deliver the schemes.
A “State of the Town” report will be produced examining Harborough’s energy use will also be produced.
Darren Woodiwiss, of the Transition Town group, said: “We are delighted we will be involved in this and that our many hours of effort have been rewarded.
“We’re desperately keen to be involved in getting on with our dreams for the town.”