A 2,300-home low carbon development which includes plans for business units and Staffordshire’s first all-through school is moving forward despite the Covid-19 crisis.
ENGIE UK is continuing demolition work at the former Rugeley Power Station site to make way for their development that will integrate innovative, low carbon energy solutions on site.
Like many major projects the outbreak of Covid-19 brought a temporary pause on works, though site remediation work soon restarted in line with Government guidance.
An amended planning application, which includes the 'all-through school', is set to be considered by Cannock Chase Council and Lichfield District Council.
ENGIE UK has been working closely with both district councils and Staffordshire County Council to bring the proposals forward. It has also commissioned Keele University as one of several partners to collaborate on a Rugeley-wide energy system innovation.
Using the combined expertise of ENGIE and Keele University in this field, which has included the university’s on-campus Smart Energy Network Demonstrator, the partners will bring forward designs for a Smart Local Energy System (SLES).
This aims to reduce carbon and energy costs for current Rugeley residents as well as future residents of the mixed-use development, whilst providing a catalyst for town regeneration and employment creation.
It is hoped the scheme will help to establish a standard for many similar UK places to transition to zero carbon. If successful this project may contribute towards the recognition of Rugeley as an Energy Innovation Zone, which will allow new approaches to energy distribution to be trialled at a district wide scale.
Professor Chris Fogwill, Director of Keele’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, said: "The SLES has the potential to significantly drive the UK forward towards a zero-carbon future, and Keele University is ideally placed to support this landmark initiative".
The new homes will be complemented by numerous open space areas and ENGIE UK has been working with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency in drawing up the plans.
There will also be trails for running, walking and cycling in addition to sports facilities including cricket, hockey, tennis and football pitches.
A new Riverside Park will be created and the site’s Borrow Pit Lake is planned to be used for a variety of water sports.
The on-site employment zone will look to attract digital and tech companies, leading to the creation of skilled high-value jobs in the area. The zone could also provide affordable workspace for small and medium-sized businesses.
Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: "This will be a tremendous development for our county and one of the first of its kind in the country. It will demonstrate innovation in a number of ways – low carbon, efficient and green.
”The old Rugeley Power Station site will be transformed into a modern and sustainable community with a focus on promoting healthy lifestyles.
"New industry on site will lead to the growth of our key sector businesses and creation of high-value jobs which is good news for Staffordshire people and our economy.
Whilst we are rightly concentrating our efforts on getting through the Covid-19 crisis, we need to plan ahead in the long-term and this development will further our reputation as a great place to live, work and visit.”