Latest News - Exeter and East Devon Growth Point

£2.5 Million Pounds of Government Funding

Following the release of the UK's Renewable Energy Strategy, the government has announced a boost of £2.5 million towards making the new community at Cranbrook, to the East of Exeter, a ‘zero carbon' development.

The funding, which comes as part of the Government's Housing Stimulus Package, will go towards district heating and a combined heat and power plant (CHP), which is powered from locally-sourced, sustainable wood fuel. This would serve the whole community at Cranbrook and would mean reduced energy bills and unlimited hot water.

It is estimated that the installation of biomass district heating and a CHP plant in the Growth Area to generate electricity and heat for the first 2900 homes at Cranbrook, could provide an estimated 10,000 tonnes of CO2 saving a year.

Whilst reconfirming the government's policy that all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016, Housing Minister John Healy said "If Britain is going to be safe from climate change in the future, we have to change the way we live now. More than a quarter of CO2 emissions comes from houses, so we are not only making improvements now, we are establishing pioneering places that in ten years time will set the standard for every new town and community."

HCA's Low Carbon Infrastructure Fund

John Healy went on to name five areas of the country along with Exeter and East Devon which will be supported by the Homes and Communities Agency's (HCA) £21 million Low Carbon Community Heating Initiative.

Colin Molton, Regional Director for the Homes and Communities Agency, the national housing and regeneration agency administering the funding said: "This is a great example of how the HCA can push boundaries to help make the South West a leader in the promotion and delivery of truly sustainable development solutions.

"Cranbrook will be the first biomass combined heat and power plant (CHP) in England serving a large scale private, domestic development of over 2,500 homes.

The development will include 30% affordable homes amongst those in the first 1,000 units; the CHP will greatly reduce carbon output, produce lower energy costs for householders; and make it possible to achieve higher levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes in a cost effective manner."

This week's announcements move Exeter and East Devon Growth Point a step closer to delivering Cranbrook and their vision of providing long term sustainable housing growth.

A Step Closer

Merlin Hyman Chief Executive of Regen SW, which has been working closely with Exeter and East Devon Growth Point to secure the funding, welcomed the announcement. He said: "Regen SW is committed to supporting the Cranbrook development to be a trail blazer in building zero-carbon homes and creating a blueprint for large scale developments of the future. The announcement of Government funding to support that is a huge step forward and one that provides the developers with a unique opportunity to get on and build the sustainable housing that the community needs. "

Ian Piper Director of Development & Regeneration for the South West RDA added "The South West RDA welcomes this announcement as it will make an important contribution to achieving our aspirations for a low carbon economy, and we will continue to work with the developers and other public sector agencies to facilitate a start on Cranbrook in the very near future. "

Although there are other district heating and low carbon schemes around the England, Cranbrook could be the first to install a combined heating and power scheme on this scale.

In response to the funding announcement Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, Leader of East Devon District Council said: "From day one we have been committed to the Government's sustainability strategy and to delivering Cranbrook to the highest code level for sustainable homes that we can achieve. Yes, it has obvious benefits for the planet but, on a more local and personal level, it means real help for real people. Affordable housing is not just about the cost of buying the bricks and mortar. This scheme will help people keep their carbon emissions down, but it will also keep their fuel bills down - which gives them greater certainty about their outgoings and peace of mind in their budgeting. Sustainability remains at the heart of the Cranbrook development and I am delighted that the Homes and Communities Agency recognise our endeavours by offering this contribution to the CHP Plant".

Cranbrook to Start 2010

The East Devon New Community Developers [Hallam Land Management, Persimmon Homes, Redrow Homes and Taylor Wimpey Homes] also welcomed the positive announcement of grant support towards the establishment of a CHP scheme for the Cranbrook Development. This represents a further step in the partnership between East Devon, Devon County Council, The Growth Point Board, the South West RDA and the HCA Departments and will undoubtedly bring closer the implementation of Cranbrook.

The New Community Developers are committed to concluding the dialogue with their Local and Central Government funding partners and are hopeful that a cost neutral package can be found to secure the objective of a CHP scheme.

Simon Perks of Persimmon Homes, on behalf of the Consortium, noted: "Working towards the objective of incorporating CHP into the scheme is challenging, particularly in the current very difficult economic climate. Without the support of full grant monies to bridge the additional cost burden that we face it will simply not be achievable at this time. The partners remain hopeful that with the recent announcements we are now very close indeed to achieving this crucial objective and being able to launch Cranbrook".

The New Community Partners continue to work towards commencement of development at the turn of the year and look forward to the delivery of the first much needed new private and affordable new homes during 2010.

In addition to reaching zero carbon at Cranbrook the development of a district heating and a combined heat and power plant in the Growth area may provide the unique opportunity for additional developments to be served by the CHP plant and for it act as a prototype for the delivery of zero carbon energy at other Growth Point sites.

Image Courtesy of Regen SW