University of Sheffield applies to build 'mini power station'

The University of Sheffield
The University of Sheffield
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Staff at The University of Sheffield are applying to build a mini power station on Bolsover Street to combat ongoing problems caused by a loss of power.

The new ‘energy centre’ is set to be built on land which previously housed a lecture theatre, opposite the university’s chemistry department on the Western Bank Campus.

The campus has been plagued by power shortages which have impacted on heating systems to key research areas, which could impact on the university’s academic standing, a report states.

“The application states that the energy centre is required due to the number of failures in the district heating supply to this site, which has resulted in the loss of heating to the Western Bank campus and, critically, to the research areas of the site.

“Extended periods of heating or power loss could result in the University’s research license agreement being revoked and many years of research being lost,” the report states.

“Some of the recent failures have lasted many weeks and, as a contingency measure, the university has had to provide emergency provision in the form of containerised oil-fired boiler units hired from a local supplier.

“However, in order to deliver a more resilient service, the university has determined that a new energy supply must be provided in the form of a locally generated and distributed facility.

“The proposed energy centre will allow the university to continue their research, and other functions, and will remove the potential of a damaging energy failure.”

A total of eight objections have been received by Sheffield City Council, three of which were from the same person, raising concerns about noise and dust, and existing parking problems in the area.

“Bolsover Street is an important route into the city centre and to the university, particularly for pedestrians,” the report states.

“However the application site, historically on the edge of the campus, caters for a range of back-of-house functions – servicing, storage and parking.

“The development of the energy centre provides the opportunity to transform the quality of this area.

“At pre-application stage it was suggested that the building’s unique role demands a suitable response; a striking piece of high quality architecture whose form celebrates its function.

“The design team considered various responses, inspired by the mechanical and electrical equipment the building will house. In the end they based the design concept on the power transformer – which often incorporates a series of vertical fins for heat dissipation.

“The resulting four storey building comprises of a series of simple, clean shapes, each defined by a concrete rib and clad to the front, either in corten panels or tightly aligned corten fins on a perforated aluminium mesh which will allow glimpses of the plant within.

“It is considered that the scale and simple, contemporary form of the proposed energy centre, which is inspired by the transformer but also reflects the function of the structure, sits comfortably against the boxy and understated mid-twentieth century university building’s which neighbour the site to the south and east.”

The application is recommended for approval with conditions, when it is discussed by Sheffield City Council’s next planning and highways committee, set to take place on Tuesday, May 22.