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Preparing for the future, while delivering for the present

Case Study: The Wichelstowe Project

Swindon’s new 3000-home development is entirely future-proofed for mass uptake of electric vehicles. 

Project overview

The Wichelstowe project is a joint venture between Swindon Borough Council and Barratt Developments that will see over 3,000 new homes, alongside schools and retail / commercial facilities built over the next 20 years.  

The project team have come together with Connected Kerb – UK-based smart cities and EV charging specialist – to deploy technologically advanced charging infrastructure across the site that aims to actively support resident transition to green mobility.  

The challenge: future-proofing the development for the uptake of electric vehicles 

The project team’s strong focus on environmental stewardship drove them to explore how they could support future residents in harbouring a more sustainable lifestyle. Core to these aspirations was a desire to make the whole development charged and ready for the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs).  

The development needed a solution that was flexible to both rising demand and new technologies; one that facilitated the deployment of a small number of charge points immediately, but also offered the ability to increase this number over time, in line with demand.  

Future installations would need to be completed with no additional construction and minimal disruption to residents and, crucially, allow residents with spaces in courtyards or off-plot to access chargers.  

The solution: taking a site-wide approach, installing charging infrastructure in visitor and off-plot parking bays to provide comprehensive coverage and encourage sustainable choices. 

The first phase of the project saw the installation of passive enabling infrastructure for over 130 EV charging points. An initial 20 active charging sockets were deployed in shared and visitor parking bays. The decision to include shared bays from the outset opened up opportunities to promote the crucial role electric vehicles hold in promoting sustainable transport choices, and allowed an element of Section 106 funding, set aside  for this purpose, to be allocated to the scheme. 

The unique design of the Connected Kerb (CK) solution allows for passive charging infrastructure (nodes and ducting) to be installed below ground during the construction phase of the development, barely visible once footpaths and streets have been paved over. 

Then, as demand from residents increases, an intelligent EV charging unit – consisting  of an above-ground socket and below-ground smart controller – can be installed. This process takes less than an hour to install each charger into pre-existing, passive below-ground infrastructure.  

Offering more than solely EV charging, CK’s system also supports Internet of Things  sensor technology, which are sensors that can manage air quality or traffic (to provide two of many examples) and these can be added with ease to new developments. 

All charge points across shared and dedicated spaces are operated through CK’s intelligent backend software, in partnership with the estate management company. The system has smart capabilities, meaning it can differentiate between users and efficiently load manage across all chargers to minimise impact on the electricity grid – critical for a deployment of this scale.  

At a glance: the process

1. Enablement  - During the construction phase of the development, the below-ground base infrastructure for charging points is installed - ‘passive deployment’. 

2. Activation -  An initial number of EV chargers are installed - ‘active deployment’. Home buyers are made aware that this development is EV-ready and are informed of how to request a charge point for their dedicated parking bay. Wichelstowe is also ready to meet Swindon Borough Council’s emerging standardswhich require developers to provide EV chargers in new homes. 

3. On-going scheme expansion  - Resident requests for charge points can be built into the developer’s sales process. With the enabling infrastructure in place at the outset, minimal work is required to add charge points as demand increases across the development. 

4. Added value  - Connected Kerb is also able to offer EV lease deals and preferential electricity tariffs to incentivise the switch to electric vehicles. 

Conclusion 

In the quest for mass transition to clean mobility, collaboration is key.  The  Wichelstowe  project’s cross-sector collaboration between council, developer and tech company is an example of a holistic approach to delivering for the present, while preparing for the future. It is an exemplary project that, if replicated at scale, would propel the UK to the forefront of global efforts in reducing the devastating effects of climate change – helping to achieve a more sustainable future for generations to come.