Case study – Combined Heat and Power Plant, Birmingham New Street Station


As part of the redeveloped Birmingham New Street Station a new combined heat and power (CHP) energy centre was built which served the newly redeveloped station. This CHP energy centre was connected to a new extension to the Birmingham District Heating System which provided a sustainable and cost effective power and heating supply to the station and the John Lewis store in the adjoining Grand Central Shopping Centre. This helped to reduce the carbon footprint of the overall development.

The Challenge

The energy centre was a first on the railway network so there were no precedents to follow. Furthermore, the extension to the Birmingham District Heating System would require third party rights through the station and the Grand Central Shopping Centre. Finally, both would require property leases and technical approvals from Network Rail and Grand Central Shopping Centre and rail regulatory approval within the station.

The Solution

Copies of agreements for similar uses were obtained from various sources including Europe and these were reviewed to research their provisions. Furthermore, copies of various Network Rail template agreements were obtained and these were reviewed and redrafted to cover all eventualities.

A close working relationship was developed with the energy company, building owners, designers, building contractors, lawyers and surveyors on the technical matters. This meant that the design of the equipment and routes through the structure were challenged and changes made which minimised the risk arising from new plant and equipment being used in a railway environment for the first time.


The various design, construction, legal and property risks which were perceived during the early stages of the scheme were identified and discussed openly and in a constructive manner. Design changes were made which eliminated or minimised these risks and pragmatic and innovative solutions were found to many of the legal and technical issues. Bespoke lease agreements were developed which enabled the scheme to progress to completion.

Temporary arrangements were agreed to enable the new John Lewis store to be heated pending completion of the full scheme. The lease agreements for the new energy centre and district heating system were completed in late 2016 and construction work undertaken with the final scheme opening in 2017.

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