Village Green Wilsford
Wilsford Community Land Trust Ltd (WCLT) were formed in 2013 to help bring affordable homes to rent to the Village. As a consequence, they are the owners of the land the Village Hall and the land LincsRural’s 10 neighbouring affordable homes are built on for which they receive a small annual ground rent.
WCLT supported the Village Hall Committee and submitted on their behalf a successful Lottery bid to refurbish the hall including extensive insulation measures. The next step was to find a green energy solution to replace the oil fired boiler and explore the possibilities for additional zero carbon solutions for the neighbouring properties and potentially the whole village.
They were encouraged to look at a microgrid and the resultant study involves an innovative scheme with ground source heat pumps behind the hall, solar panels on the hall roof, and on top of an eight-bay EV parking canopy on land opposite the affordable homes. Eight parking spaces with EV would be available to use by anyone in the village particularly important as there are many terraced homes.
These shared resources would all be connected by a private wire from an energy centre with battery storage in the village hall and connected to the neighbouring homes. There would be an additional fast charge EV point at the Village Hall.
There could be savings of 75% on the expenditure for the homes alleviating fuel poverty and 35% on heating costs for the Village Hall.
This would create a local energy market place, so the proposal includes setting up a billing system, WEnergy, which could make a 20% margin for the service. The socio-economic benefits from this project will be the most rewarding and come from having more value in the community and creating community cohesion which comes from sharing the responsibility for achieving these energy goals.
Challenges and risks
The challenges included stakeholder engagement involving WCLT, the Parish Council (PC), the Village Hall Committee, and LincsRural Housing. Having previously co-operated in developing the affordable homes this was successfully established.
The site visit clarified that the Village Hall has space for an Energy Centre and importantly uses a three phase supply. During the Hall refurbishment and following the consultant site visit it was agreed to replace the Hall’s radiators with ones that would work with both the old and new system and they are already in situ.
It was agreed that land behind the hall could take ground source heat pumps without needing to use the Playing Field which was of some concern to the PC. The homes were assessed as suitable for a private wire connection from the rear. Other challenges are Planning permission for the parking canopy, and establishing the legal entity for WEnergy.
The current barriers for the project moving forward are to find the funds to develop the business plan now the RCEF grant has been withdrawn. On the team’s behalf, Pure Leapfrog have applied to the Energy Saving Trust energy redress scheme but were not successful, however they are continuing looking for alternative funding opportunities.
LincsRural, the village’s Housing Association, are working to help find funding and their Communications Specialist designed a logo and a news leaflet to distribute to the village. The intention being to seek their opinions on expanding the scheme to include more homes which could enable them to bid for funding from the Green Heat Network Fund.