An energy centre which could provide heating and electricity to developments throughout the town centre is to be built at the back of Crawley Town Hall.
Plans for the District Energy Centre building, complete with control room, pipework and five 33.5m high flues were approved at a meeting of Crawley Borough Council’s planning committee last week.
The flues were initially designed to be 19m high but were extended after concerns were raised about the effect on flats due to be built in the area.
The meeting was told that the centre would serve the town hall site, the adjoining car park site – which has been approved for a 91-flat redevelopment – and the nearby Kilnmead site.
The pipework would also enable future developments to draw their energy from the centre, with no need for individual boilers in any of the flats.
Members were told that it was a ‘more efficient and sustainable’ system than the national grid and would reduce the amount of carbon emissions being pumped into the atmosphere by 213 tonnes per year.
There was some concern from members about the appearance of the flues, particularly for those who would be living in the flats, with Kim Jaggard (Con, Maidenbower) predicting a ‘ghastly outlook’ for residents.
Brenda Burgess (Con, Three Bridges) was also concerned about the emissions from the flues.
She said: “No matter how high you put them into the sky or where they go, at some point they’re going to come back to us.
“I do worry that, in this day and age, we couldn’t have found a greener way of doing this.
“It just seems that, as we move on with technology, this is going to be out-dated before we’ve even put it up.”
The issue of noise was also raised, with officers explaining that the centre would be insulated, with more insulation able to be added if necessary.
Stressing the importance of reducing the amount of CO2 produced, Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield) said: “We need to think about what the alternatives would be for all these different buildings generating their energy and also producing pollution – or worse, having lots of individual boilers.”
He added: “It’s clear there are some smaller issues but this scheme would be a terrific asset to the town, a terrific asset to the town hall site, and will set a benchmark for other private developers to follow.”