Plans for a new housing development incorporating a solar plant are currently being considered by Cotswold District Council, where 88 new properties and a nearby school could stand to benefit from local energy generation.

Great Gable submitted plans for the development in Cirencester, Gloucestershire in November which include the construction of a solar array at the north end of the 10.8 hectare site. The ground mount installation would cover around 0.4 hectares of land currently characterised as pastoral field. The potential site is also underneath power cables, which planning firm Hunter Page said makes it a good candidate for use as a solar farm.

Adam White, senior planner at Hunter Page, told Solar Power Portal: “The whole idea of using that area is that it’s an area of land beneath some power cables, so to a degree it doesn’t have a particularly good use. This is at the northern end of the site which is reasonably well-contained and you probably wouldn’t see it from outside of the development once all the landscaping went in.

“So it just seems like a very good use for that piece of land. Plus you’ve got the ecological benefits [of solar] as well as using the land underneath for additional habitats. So it served a number of uses.”

As the application was delivered in an outline form, details of the solar farm's generation capacity have yet to be decided, however the power generated would in theory be enough to supply the site’s new residential properties as well as the nearby Siddington Primary School.

“The concept of using the solar park and potentially solar panels on the housing as well would mean [the development] would be pretty self-sufficient in terms of energy generation. It would then ideally feed an excess back into the grid as well,” White added.

The solar farm would also be used by the school for educational purposes, with the rough grassland under the panels to be used for newt habitat mitigation.

In addition, the solar output would provide a contribution to the renewable energy resource targets set at a national level and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The planning documents also claim the array would bring jobs to the area as well as contribute to the local economy through the payment of business rates to Cotswold District Council.

The plans are currently being considered by the council, with a final decision due within the coming months.