Buildwas Power Station
Re-development Opportunities

The redundant existing terraced site of the Buildwas Power Station is unique, with a rural setting and a mainline rail connection to the UK network.

Ironbridge Railway Trust (IRT) considers this to be a high-quality site requiring very careful consideration as to its future redevelopment, being adjacent to the Ironbridge Gorge and its immediate environment.

The Trust believes the site’s availability presents an ideal opportunity to create a mixed-use development of the highest calibre which should include housing, hotels (with conference facilities and an extension of the existing golf course with driving range), a leisure retail village, an extension of the existing golf course and a range of R+D high-tech commercial premises.

Tourism, leisure and the quality of the local heritage are at the very heart of this River Severn corridor, so its future prosperity is of local, regional, national and international importance.

Modern day visitors also need complimentary facilities if their continued interest is to be harnessed in order to safeguard the financial future of the region at large.

Our suggested design concept aims to improve the area in a sustainable way that enables future economic growth for local inhabitants and those in the surrounding towns.

The Ironbridge Gorge is an exquisite rural location that houses a World Heritage Site, but its visitors need access to a full range of amenities to enable the area to realise the full economic potential of its tourism industry.

Appropriate development of this site is the key to unlocking the Gorge’s true potential.

The current public transport and tourist accommodation needs enhancement to match high visitor expectations as well as environmental and conservation agendas. Making the attractions (and any future development) accessible without adverse effects to the environment is key to a successful development which conserves and develops the sensitive environment of the Ironbridge Gorge. Reinstating the old Severn Valley Branch line as a community railway, allowing the operation of heritage trains and modern PPM units, is of fundamental importance to this concept. This would also provide the opportunity to explore the economic feasibility of extending back to Bridgnorth.

Retaining and upgrading the power station freight line for passenger use, (given a connection to the national network already exists), would also create a major new transport artery which should encourage a modal shift away from road to accommodate both existing and future demand

The Ironbridge Railway Trust considers that a mixed redevelopment proposal for the power station site would greatly assist the financial viability of re-establishing rail services by providing a “destination” as well as affording the opportunity to create a park and ride facility for rail access to the Gorge. The effects on congestion in the area would be significant improvement.

Future redevelopment could also accommodate the termination of the Telford Steam Railway’s future service proposals, (or any through traffic to Buildwas Abbey), by the creation of shared station facilities to include those necessary for a main line connection as well as the reintroduction of rail transportation through the Gorge. Indeed, such proposals would not only enhance TSR’s existing arrangements but, coupled with the requirements for re-introducing rail travel along the Gorge, all these possibilities could also lead to the establishment of railway engineering workshops etc., thus creating jobs and apprenticeships in an historical environment.

Housing is an important consideration, but not as a single use for the site; despite there being current and future housing requirements for the county.

The local expansion of Jaguar Land Rover and other associated companies could also justify the site’s use for a major hi-tech research /commercial complex.

However, we would caution against a single use project due to the resultant pressure on local roads from a large amount of residential or commercial traffic.

We feel that the topography of the Gorge would much more easily accommodate the type of mixed development that we have outlined above. In addition, a mixed-use development could take advantage of the existing landscape features and be more visually acceptable.

A mixed site could yield over 1500 houses depending upon density, between 500,000sqft and 750,000sqft (circa 46,500m2 -70,000m2)of R&D and circa 210,000sqft (19,000m2) of leisure retail plus the hotel + conference facilities.  An initial analysis using the industry standard TRCIS software and the current mode shares for transport in Telford for a development of this size suggests that between 4000 and 6000 new single road trips could occur per day. Without rail, this will place a major strain on the road network.

Conversion of the existing freight line could reduce the impact in line with the National Policy Planning Framework para 32 on sustainable transport, making a development much more attractive.


Buildwas Power Station prior to demolition commencing in 2019

Buildwas Power Station prior to demolition commencing in 2019.

indicative conceptual masterplan

The indicative conceptual masterplan, prepared by Peter J. Lyons RIBA Dip LA., Chartered Architect and Landscape Consultant representing Garrett McKee Architects Ltd., demonstrates the benefits which can be provided by the creation of a mixed development at Buildwas Power Station. Future local planning requirements for the site need, therefore, to not only reflect the essence of this proposal but also, of equal importance, the alternative sustainable transport initiative it could generate.

The Power Station:

  • Ceased operation in November 2015
  • The site has now been sold to the Harworth Group Plc., who are currently planning their development proposals
  • We propose a mixed use development for the site
  • The railway is required to enable the establishment of a mixed use development whilst protecting the linear heritage corridor
  • A mixed redevelopment of the power station site is crucial to create a ‘DESTINATION’ for the railway