The provision of utilities for the largest site in the new garden city at Ebbsfleet is a prime example of the benefits of adopting a multi-utility approach. Co-ordinating the installation of all the utilities for this major development, GTC is using its expertise to overcome the challenges posed by the site and ensure the on-time delivery of service connections for the developer and housebuilders.
Development: Whitecliffe, Ebbsfleet Garden City
Customer: Henley Camland
Sector: Residential and commercial
Utilities: Electricity, Direct-Lay Fibre with FIRS, Water, Wastewater, Gas
New garden city
Announced in the March 2014 Budget, Ebbsfleet was hailed as the UK’s first new garden city in almost 100 years. Castle Hill, the first phase of the development within Whitecliffe, the largest site, will consist of 1,500 homes surrounding a neighbourhood garden with green spaces, public meeting places, trees and pathways; a new school; and a community centre. When Whitecliffe is complete it will consist of 6,250 homes, of which 25% will be designated as affordable housing; office space; shops; a hotel and leisure facilities; as well as community spaces.
At Whitecliffe, GTC will own five networks on the site – water, wastewater, gas, fibre and electricity. GTC was able to offer the major advantage of being able to deliver the complete energy and utility infrastructure for the site from initial design to the final connections. A single GTC project manager has the oversight of, and responsibility for, the designs for all utilities ensuring that the implementation and management of the utilities networks work seamlessly as part of the development’s infrastructure.
Whilst the installation of the gas network for the development was straightforward, connecting the electricity took a more complex route, from the nearby Ebbsfleet International Rail Station. The electricity network had to be brought 2km from a substation at the train station and over a bridge to the development. Whilst this was being done, traffic had to be managed and GTC’s project manager had to liaise with Network Rail to gain access to the station’s equipment.
GTC has undertaken the strategic management of the water and wastewater networks throughout Whitecliffe. Owning, installing and operating the water and wastewater networks, GTC has managed the relationship with Thames Water, the regional water company, to arrange the connection points from the development’s network to their mains supply.
Fibre broadband is now a standard feature of all new homes – homeowners expect it, and with further government focus it is set to remain a key decision-making factor for house buyers. At Whitecliffe GTC is laying ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Home to each residential plot, and when complete delivering speeds of 1Gbps. GTC’s network is open access, with a wide choice of ISPs, allowing homeowners to choose the services – data, voice, TV, and Sky TV; the speed; and the customer service standards that meet their needs and budget.
GTC has been using a new fibre installation initiative at Whitecliffe. GTC’s direct-lay means that GTC carries out the majority of the installation, including the ducts and chambers around the site, rather than the developer. Not only does this represent savings in both time and costs for the developer, but also means that the scheduling and management of these groundworks is handled by GTC’s project manager enabling them to be coordinated with other utility infrastructure work.
The Whitecliffe community also benefits from a Fibre Integrated Reception System (FIRS) which has been installed by GTC. FIRS uses a single satellite dish and aerial array for satellite TV (including Sky-Q), free-view and DAB radio. The fibre network is used to deliver the signal to each premises which means that only a single satellite dish is required for the whole development.
“We, as the lead developer, have used a multi-utility approach for many years now and consider this to be the most pragmatic way to install main services on large development sites. Service installation and connections isn’t the easiest item of work to be actioned on the development and having one point of contact for all service works definitely has its merits.”Mark Elwell, Consultant, Henley Camland