Sometimes an opportunity can bring challenges and barriers which need that extra bit of effort, resilience and desire to push over the line. This commercial to residential conversion project in Leek was one of those opportunities.
The County Services Building as it was previously known had been empty since 2014 when Staffordshire County Council moved elsewhere. The building previously housed their Connexions Service and prior to that operated as Leek Register Office.
Planning permission was granted to create 21 new flats and the conversion developed at pace.
The investor responsible for the development contacted us to ask for support to provide a suitable electric connection into the site. Cue the challenges!
Issue 1 - The only available connection point for the electricity supply was to the front of the building. The property does not have a basement and there was no space on the frontage to accommodate an electric kiosk. We also couldn't pass the right hand elevation of the building as the levels were deemed too severe to be able to maintain a supply safely.
Issue 2 - The new service route had to run to the rear of the property. This meant that it would run through third party land. Essentially, the building is landlocked.
Issue 3 - The third party owners of the land didn't really want the disruption of the excavations through their land.
Issue 4 - The easement process took several months to complete.
Issue 5 - The existing supply to the building which was not suitable terminated in the health centre next door and would need an outage when being disconnected, this at a time where there were significant Covid-19 vaccines stored in fridges within the centre.
We worked hard with an engineer from Western Power Distribution to identify a suitable service route. When this had been agreed we then worked with the client to try and influence the third party landowner to agree to the cable being laid and energised. This included site visits and several meetings but eventually an agreement was reached.
The easement process then began. Normally, we would just sit tight until the process had been completed however, in this case, due to the pace of the conversion and it nearing completion, we chased the wayleaves officer at WPD almost daily. We are pretty certain that things only happened so quickly because we were getting on her nerves!
In time the easement completed and the team were scheduled to install the new supply. It was a positive experience with the installer with the main and the multi-service distribution unit being installed the same day.
We agreed with WPD that they would complete the disconnection outside of normal working hours to limit disruption to the health centre and the client put a generator on their supply for a short period to maintain electricity to the fridges.
We also coordinated meter installations with an energy supplier resulting in 21 operational flats and a three phase landlords supply.
Positivity is critical when such challenges are encountered! We don't necessarily have all of the answers immediately but we are patient and have the knowledge, experience and contacts to identify solutions to the barriers encountered. Everyone knows that many utility installations don't run perfectly however with a lot of positivity and determination almost anything can be resolved. Taking learning from these challenges makes our service stronger on the next opportunity - Dean Pattison, Director