The Leys, Aberthaw

The Leys, Aberthaw

Project Information

Client: CCR Energy
Partners: Sutton Consulting, Mark Barry Consulting, UCE
Location: Vale of Glamorgan
Service: Urban Design & Planning Consultancy

Transforming a former power station into a green energy and advanced manufacturing hub

The Challenge

The decommissioned Aberthaw power station site will form a key plank in Cardiff Capital Region’s (CCR) strategy to decarbonise the region up to 2035. CCR Energy bought the site in 2021, recognising its potential to be an exemplar for a just transition, creating the conditions for clean growth, bringing high-value jobs to the area, providing pathways to accessing those jobs, and a supply chain that can help catalyse the regeneration of communities across the region. The 198 ha site includes a range of constraints, including complex power and grid supply infrastructure, a 55 ha ash-mound, an operational rail head, access constraints, a river bisecting the site; and flood risk, ecological and heritage designations. This is balanced by some significant opportunities, including capitalising on existing rail links, and the placemaking potential of existing green/ blue infrastructure, site setting, and proximity to heritage assets; as well as agglomeration benefits offered by proximity to the adjacent Enterprise Zone and neighbouring sites over the longer term.

Our Role

We worked with CCR Energy to define a vision and multiple objectives from the outset, to ensure the project evolves in a manner consistent with CCR’s broader ambitions and the wider policy framework. We first undertook a comprehensive baseline analysis to understand constraints and opportunities in detail. We then assessed a range of potential uses consistent with CCR Energy’s ambitions, focused on potentially game-changing ‘tier 1’ uses. A range of potential uses beyond energy were appraised, including advanced manufacturing and ancillary uses that will bring multiplier effects, such as research and development and leisure activities. There was a need to balance these more ‘aspirational’ uses against commercial realities, considering fall-back options should these not come forward, such as more conventional manufacturing.

The Outcome

Our resulting masterplan seeks to accommodate a range of uses and enable a range of potential scenarios as CCR Energy’s understanding of the technical constraints develops further; and discussions with potential investors and the wider community move forward. Target typologies include energy-generating uses (such as solar, small (or micro) modular reactors, and tidal power), energy storage (hydrogen and battery storage), energy users (data centres, a gigafactory, and others), and ‘ancillary’ uses (leisure, innovation, ecology park). The latter can help to maximise the value of the other uses, enhance sense of place, and deliver social value. Our masterplan ensures good placemaking is central to the proposals, with the ultimate aim of creating a centre for innovation in emerging industries and energy technologies, while opening up the site to the wider community.

Ready to work together?

We are more than happy to discuss any project, any size, at any time.