The district heating network will cover new homes planned for an Eco-town at Cranbrook near Exeter and the neighbouring £120m Skypark commercial scheme being developed by St Modwen.
Developers behind the Cranbrook scheme consist of Hallam Land Management, Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon Homes and Redrow Homes.
The link-up between local development agency Exeter and East Devon Growth Point, energy providers E.ON, St Modwen and Cranbrook’s developers has enabled the completion of an energy supply agreement that will capture £4.1m of grant funding for a district heating network.
A district heating network using renewable energy is one of the most efficient ways of delivering low carbon housing schemes such as Cranbrook. But these schemes require significant capital investment at the outset which has so far been out of reach for house builders.
A combination of £3.7m grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Fund and further contributions of £400,000 from the local authority partners, together with significant investment from E.ON, St Modwen and Cranbrook’s developers, has successfully bridged the funding gap enabling the scheme to go ahead.
Exeter and East Devon Growth Point Chairman and East Devon District Councillor Ray Franklin said: “What we are actually doing is rewriting the blueprint for how developments are built and how energy can be supplied. We will be one of the first, if not the first local authority in the country to build a mass open market development with district heating from day one.”
A biomass district heating scheme for the first 2900 homes at Cranbrook could provide an estimated, 10,000 tones of C02 savings a year and could set a precedent for all national house builders to follow.
East Devon District Council has approved planning permission for the schemes energy centre which is to be built on the site of the Skypark development near Exeter Airport.
Ian Guy, Senior Development Manager for St Modwen, said: “The energy centre facility fully supports our plans to make Skypark a sustainable employment hub to serve Exeter and Devon’s economy, creating up to 6,500 jobs locally. We, and our development partners Devon County Council, believe we are taking an important lead in low carbon development which will become more and more important to business occupiers over the next few years.”
Construction work on the Cranbrook site is due to start later this year.