Policy SE 9: Energy Efficient Development

  1. The council will look favourably upon development that follows the principles of the Energy Hierarchy, and seeks to achieve a high rating under schemes such as BREEAM (for non-residential development), CEEQUAL (for public-realm development) and Building for Life. For non-residential development, this will be especially so where the standard attained exceeds that required by the current Building Regulations (or as updated).
  2. Non-residential development over 1,000 square metres will be expected to secure at least 10 per cent of its predicted energy requirements from decentralised and renewable or low carbon sources, unless the applicant can clearly demonstrate that having regard to the type of development and its design, this is not feasible or viable.
  3. In those areas identified as 'District Heating Network Priority Areas' footnote 69 or within large scale development elsewhere, new development should contribute to the development of a strategic district heating network, where feasible and viable, by seeking to make use of available heat (including geothermal) and waste heat as follows:
    1. Large and mixed use developments of over 100 dwellings or non residential development of 10,000 square metres gross floor space should install a site-wide district heating network.
    2. Smaller developments of 10 or more dwellings or non residential development of 1,000 square metres gross floor space should connect to any available district heating network.
  4. Where a district heating network does not yet exist, applicants should demonstrate that the heating and cooling equipment installed is capable of connection to a network at a later date.
  5. New development should be designed to maximise the ability to accommodate a district heating solution in terms of overall layout, phasing, mix of uses and density.
  6. Development with high energy demands should give consideration to its potential role in providing an anchor load for a district heating network.
  7. In those areas that are not connected to the gas network, new development will be encouraged to deliver its residual energy from low and zero carbon sources.


13.86  The National Planning Policy Framework states that 'to support the move to a low carbon future, local planning authorities should: plan for new development in locations and ways which reduce greenhouse gas emissions; actively support energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings; and when setting any local requirement for a building’s sustainability, do so in a way consistent with the government’s zero carbon buildings policy and adopt nationally described standards'. It also states that development should 'comply with adopted Local Plan policies on local requirements for decentralised energy supply unless it can be demonstrated by the applicant, having regard to the type of development involved and its design, that this is not feasible or viable; and take account of landform, layout, building orientation, massing and landscaping to minimise energy consumption'.

Figure 13.3 Energy hierarchy

Figure 13.3 Energy hierarchy. Reduce energy demand, then supply energy from renewable sources, then make more efficient use of fossil fuels

13.87  Cheshire East is relatively constrained in terms of its capacity to generate renewable energy, particularly from large scale technologies. Consequently, achieving national and local targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and increase renewable energy generation will be extremely challenging. Without a requirement for efficiency standards that exceed the requirements of Building Regulations on large sites, it would be unlikely to occur.

13.88  Cheshire East Council and Housing Associations will lead by example by seeking to maximise energy efficiency and by incorporating renewable energy generation through the refurbishment and redevelopment of land and buildings in their ownership.

13.89  This justification for the on-site low carbon energy target is drawn from the Cheshire East ‘Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Planning Research’ February 2011’, which considers technical feasibility and financial viability. This approach is justified by the particular challenges and characteristics of the borough. The target seeks to achieve a balance between the social, economic and environmental imperative of higher standards and the commercial realities of property developers. The council recognises that this will in some cases remain a challenging target, particularly for certain building types, and so it will be acceptable to achieve average compliance across all buildings in a development. 

13.90  Compliance with this requirement should be demonstrated through completion of the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) which assesses the energy rating of development. This process is already required to demonstrate compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations. If viability is uncertain, applicants should use open book accounting to allow the determination of viability.

13.91  The purpose of the ‘district heating network priority areas’ is to prioritise district heating in areas where the potential is greatest and to take advantage of available heat sources such as geothermal or waste heat. The development of District Heating Networks to serve strategic developments and areas where there are major energy users are being explored. However, it is recognised that delivering District Heating Networks cannot be achieved though planning alone. The aim of this policy is to ensure that new development makes an appropriate contribution.

13.92  The design and layout of site-wide networks should be such as to enable future expansion into surrounding communities. Where appropriate, applicants may be required to provide land, buildings and/or equipment for an energy centre to serve existing or new development, irrespective of whether the scheme is currently in operation.

13.93  The viability of district heating schemes is heavily influenced by a development’s density, mix of use, layout and phasing. Residential development should normally be at least 55 dwellings per hectare and a minimum size of 100 homes. Mixed use development can allow densities to be lower and can provide a good ‘anchor’ development (i.e. provides a high and stable heat load over the day and year). The cost of district heating pipes is high and so the layout of a development should seek to minimise the length of pipe needed. The on-site network should consider how it can be connected to a strategic network in future.

13.94  The council is committed to encouraging households and businesses located in areas off the gas network to move away from heating systems powered by liquid gas, oil or electricity towards low and zero carbon technologies. Applications for new development in areas off the gas network will be expected to comply with this requirement. This will have economic benefits for the occupants as well as contributing to the achievement of national and local carbon dioxide and renewable energy targets.

13.95  Government targets in relation to greenhouse gas reduction are recognised to be challenging. Government and industry experts recognise that construction practice may be unable to keep pace with the ambitious targets imposed and from this the notion of 'Allowable Solutions' was created. These 'Allowable Solutions' are a way of providing flexibility for low and zero carbon development and are likely to be an identified set of on, off and near-site options or projects that will be used to offset the remaining greenhouse gas emissions of a proposal.

13.96  The proposed framework for zero carbon buildings policy including allowable solutions has yet to be fully confirmed by government and is currently being developed at the national level. Cheshire East Council will align with the national prescribed scheme, once in place, or look to establish local mechanisms if the national scheme is not introduced as planned, to improve the viability of development under the zero carbon requirements. Money raised through allowable solutions, or its locally established alternative, will contribute towards the delivery of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction priorities identified by Cheshire East Council. Further guidance on this will be given at site allocations stage following further national guidance on this matter expected from the government.

Key Evidence

  1. Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Study (2011)
  2. Renewable Energy Policy Study (2010)
  3. Renewable Energy Handbook (2011)
  4. Local Energy Networks Project (2011)

(Footnote 69) To be identified in the Site Allocations and Development Policies Development Plan Document

Policy information


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