Plans for a new energy centre for Worthing Borough Council’s planned heat network have been approved.
The energy centre, which will be installed at the High Street multi-story car park, was approved by the council’s planning committee at a meeting on Wednesday, December 20.
The Worthing Heat Network is designed to help the council reach its 2030 net zero targets, and will see gas boilers replaced by air source heat pumps and other green thermal energy sources.
Three large air source heat pumps, or ‘heat absorbers’, will be installed on the roof of the car park, connected to the energy centre and thermal store on the ground by a flue vent running down the face of the car park, backed up by gas boilers if needed.
A sub-station will also be installed opposite the main energy centre building, and the heat pumps will be enclosed by acoustic panels lining the roof of the car park.
Designs for the centre showed the main building and thermal store with ‘living’ walls covered with plants, with other buildings painted grey and black, or alternatively saw most of the buildings excluding the pumps painted orange.
Members mostly thought the designs were ‘ugly’ but recognised the need for the heat network and time pressures involved, with developers Hemiko Power, previously Pinnacle Power, saying they might need to start building soon to meet targets.
The energy centre will first connect town-centre buildings including Worthing Town Hall and Worthing Hospital.
The Worthing Society objected to the plans, saying it was not opposed to the energy centre itself but the location, calling the scheme ‘incongruous’ with heritage assets and conservation areas near the development.
Council officers said the site would provide less than substantial harm, but that any harm to the heritage of the area was outweighed by the public benefit provided by the heat network.
Cabinet member for climate emergency Sophie Cox (Lab, Castle) told the planning committee the scheme would cut carbon emissions by at least 3,000 tonnes a year, equivalent to taking 2,000 cars off the road. The Worthing Heat Network was agreed by Worthing Borough Council in April at a full council meeting, investing around £7.5 million in the scheme to be up and running by 2025.