Piloting chargepoint cable pavement gullies in Oxfordshire.
For residents without off-street parking, dedicated pavement cable gullies offer a potentially promising solution, allowing a driver to discretely run a chargepoint cable from a home chargepoint unit to their vehicle. Grant funding has been awarded to Oxfordshire County Council and ODS (a Local Authority Trading Company owned by Oxford City Council) to develop the innovative solution in phase two of the OxGul-e project.
Oxfordshire’s electric vehicle (EV) strategy promotes a hierarchy of solutions for residents without off-street parking to enable them to charge their EV as close to home as possible.
The project develops the technology following on from the Go Ultra Low Oxford (GULO) pilot conducted by Oxford City Council in 2017, in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council.
Funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), the GULO pilot enabled a small group of residents living on terraced streets in Oxford to install a home chargepoint unit on their property and feed a charging cable through a dedicated channel in the pavement to reach their vehicle. The aim was to minimise the risk of trailing cables, while enabling on-street charging with minimal disruption to dedicated parking provision and impact on the historic built environment.
Between October 2020 and March 2021, Innovate UK and OZEV funded phase one of the follow-up project, OxGul-e. This enabled ODS and Oxfordshire County Council, with support from Oxford City Council, to develop and further test the gully equipment. This included work on how the solution could be licensed for use on the public highway.
Phase two of the project runs from August 2021 to March 2022 with the aims of finalising the design, licensing mechanisms and delivering a trial.
Five home chargepoint units and gullies for residents have been installed to date. As participants did not have dedicated parking, they arranged with neighbours to enable access to the gully outside their home. The evaluation found this led to more positive interactions between residents. Despite early concerns, most participants found they only needed to charge once or twice a week.
Installing gullies is significantly cheaper than providing residential on-street charging, such as through a free-standing bollard. The return on investment is approximately two years. It is anticipated that the cost could be met by homeowners, in the same way that the provision of dropped kerbs is funded.
Unlike the cable gullies and chargepoints installed on a property with a driveway, the home chargepoints do not fall under permitted development rights. The councils will seek to address this by adapting local planning policy, but national policy change is needed to facilitate smoother wider deployment.
The solution does not suit all circumstances. For example, corner plots are not feasible because parking is not permitted in the vicinity of a road junction, and installing gullies may not be allowed in certain heritage areas. Further consideration is needed for housing types where access to the chargepoint and gully may need to be shared, as well as how to decommission the gully when it is no longer in use. The solution is better suited to EVs rather than plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV), which require more regular charging to maximise efficiency. Local authorities will need to consider the impact of wider transport planning changes, such as future restrictions on pavement parking and car-free zones.
Although the GULO and OxGul-e projects are small pilots, they have proven that the approach can work for some residents. Following the success of the pilot and further testing, phase two of OxGul-e will see the roll out of 30 OxGul-e units across the county between January 2022 and March 2022, to include urban and rural homes.
“We’re developing a deceptively simple solution which will immediately open up the choice of EV ownership to millions more. The phrase ‘game changer’ is bandied about all too often, yet this discreet option could significantly increase EV uptake and will make a difference to decarbonising Oxford.”Sophie HearnHead of infrastructure at ODS