Rugeley Power Station – new community

In 2016 Rugeley Power Station (RPS) ceased production of electricity to the National Grid and the site began to close. In 2021 our planners secured outline permission for Rugeley Power Limited (ENGIE, now EQUANS) for the redevelopment and regeneration of the former power station, transforming this disused site into a home for people and flourishing wildlife, whilst supporting jobs, education, and recreation – with sustainability at its heart.

Rugeley Power Station, prior to the demolition of the cooling towers in June 2021, was an intrinsic part of the town of Rugeley and its adjoining neighbourhoods and impossible to miss on the skyline. Its prominence was in keeping with its significance as a major generator of employment and power in the region and unlike some comparable sites in the UK, the Power Station site does not sit detached from the nearby settlement - it is part of it.

The chimneys, seen from far and wide, became visual markers of the work undertaken there, and emblems of industrialised Britain. The scale of activity was such that the site was more than just a place to work; it grew as an important location for social, sporting, and recreational activity, available to the wider community and not just those employed there.

From these events and in recognition of this relationship that the site has long held with Rugeley, EQUANS (the site owner), set out to create an exciting new future for the site to help connect the town and bring new investment and new opportunity.

The new sustainable and innovative, housing-led mixed-use community will have a distinctive identity, that is set to improve housing standards, energy efficiency and public amenities including transport. It will include 2,300 homes, a low carbon all through school, five hectares of employment space and a new 25-hectare country park alongside the River Trent. The development will also improve options for sustainable transport into the town and to the train stations (Rugeley Trent Valley and Rugeley Town) through walking, cycling and public transport expansion.

The development proposes two areas of community focus. A neighbourhood hub, situated closest to the town, will look to provide a convenience store, healthcare facility and retail opportunities, all centred around a town square, providing an excellent platform for the old and new communities to come together. Whilst the second area focuses on embracing the existing Borrow Pit Lake and its proximity to the Trent and Mersey Canal. Walking routes around the lake and opportunities for water-based leisure activities, such as fishing and boating, will make this an attractive destination for residents and all those visiting. Between the two areas in the middle of the site will be an innovative and highly sustainable all-through school, delivered as a first phase of development.

To realise Rugeley’s potential to be one of the lowest carbon mixed-use of its size in the UK, EQUANS will look to use a number of innovative technologies and community energy solutions. They’re working with Keele University to design a Smart Local Energy System (SLES) that will demonstrate how such a system can reduce carbon and energy costs for residents, whilst providing a catalyst for town regeneration and employment creation. The Rugeley SLES is intended to bring benefits to both the town and the future residents of the proposed mixed-use development at the former Rugeley Power Station site. The SLES builds on research developed at Keele through projects such as the University’s Smart Energy Network Demonstrator, the HyDeploy project and CUSP (Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity).

I FEEL INCREDIBLY PROUD TO BE INVOLVED IN A FANTASTIC PROJECT THAT WILL TRANSFORM THIS REDUNDANT LAND INTO A THRIVING CONNECTED AND SUSTAINABLE PLACE. A PLACE THAT BOTH RESIDENTS AND VISITORS ALIKE WILL BE ABLE TO ENJOY AND THRIVE IN AND ONE THAT BRINGS HUGE POSITIVE EFFECTS TO THE AREA – INCLUDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR EMPLOYMENT, HEALTH AND WELLBEING, NEW HOMES FOR ALL, EDUCATION, AND GREEN SPACES. IT IS AN INNOVATIVE PROJECT THAT IS LOOKING TO DELIVER ENERGY SAVINGS AND REDUCE EMISSIONS, WHICH WILL BENEFIT OF THE COMMUNITY AND HELP MOVE TOWARDS A ZERO-CARBON FUTURE.

James Bonner, Planning Associate Director

 

Project Details

  • 2,300 low carbon homes and residential units
  • 1.2 ha of mixed-use space
  • 5 ha of employment
  • An all-through school
  • Local centre and smaller retail centre
  • 25 ha riverside park
  • Formal and informal publicly accessible open space
  • Ground and roof mounted solar panels

To realise Rugeley’s potential to be one of the lowest carbon mixed-use of its size in the UK, EQUANS will look to use a number of innovative technologies and community energy solutions. They’re working with Keele University to design a Smart Local Energy System (SLES) that will demonstrate how such a system can reduce carbon and energy costs for residents, whilst providing a catalyst for town regeneration and employment creation. The Rugeley SLES is intended to bring benefits to both the town and the future residents of the proposed mixed-use development at the former Rugeley Power Station site. The SLES builds on research developed at Keele through projects such as the University’s Smart Energy Network Demonstrator, the HyDeploy project and CUSP (Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity).

The SLES aims to present an innovative, replicable, and scalable energy solution – with new energy business models, local energy marketplaces and inclusive design offering benefits to the surrounding community. The scheme is therefore hoped to help establish a standard for many similar UK places to transition to zero carbon. It is also a proposed Energy Innovation Zone, which will allow further new approaches to energy distribution to be trialled in the town.

The highly constrained site, sitting across two Local Authority boundaries, was certainly not without its challenges for our planners. Tight timescales were apparent throughout, given the ongoing remediation programme and ambitious timetable for delivery of all-through school by 2024, which itself was not included in the original outline submission, so an amendment to the outline application was required after the Councils resolved to grant but before the Section 106 was agreed and decision was issued. As a cross boundary outline application, this necessitated a signification programme of engagement with the councils and key stakeholders. This included a number of workshops and forums ahead of submission of the outline and ongoing engagement throughout the determination of the outline, including in relation to the amendments to include the all-through school.

Issues arose during the determination of the outline application in relation to the retail and employment matters. Our retail experts prepared a retail technical note which undertook a review of the retail market with a health check and sequential site analysis. In response to concerns around job densities, our Development Economics team prepared an employment land needs technical report, which reviewed the strategic employment land needs evidence base and established how the proposed quantum of employment floorspace would contribute to the wider identified needs. Following submission of these technical notes and attendance at meetings with officers, the concerns were resolved and allowed the application to proceed to planning committees.

Since approval of the outline application in April 2021 we have secured approval for various site wide conditions, including to allow the remediation programme to proceed. We have also secured approval for reserved matters for the all-through school and riverside park, the latter of which has now commenced. Further applications will be submitted in 2022 for infrastructure.

Images: JTP, Glancy Nicholls Architects, Rugeley Power Limited