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Selecting steel defines success

April 3, 2019 by NSC in Comment
Building on brownfield sites is being championed by a new campaign from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) as a way to ensure enough land can be brought into use to combat the UK’s housing shortage while avoiding building over green belt areas. Steel construction is equally appropriate for brownfield as well as greenfield sites.

Housing, important as it is, isn’t the only need that is met by using brownfield sites, many of which couldn’t be developed economically or perhaps at all if it wasn’t for steel construction’s capabilities, like being able to access tight inner-city sites for example.

As the CPRE said at the launch of their campaign, building on brownfield presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration. Steel has certainly proven its worth over the years on a multitude of projects that have breathed new life into entire areas, regenerating town and city centres throughout the UK.

In this issue of NSC we have the example of the £1,000 million Edinburgh St James project adjacent to the city’s Waverley Station and in the shadow of the iconic Edinburgh Castle, where large transfer structures are enabling a complex construction including a 13-storey hotel and major retail units. Old concrete columns are being replaced with steel and steel’s offsite credentials mean that a potentially large workforce is being kept to manageable levels.

This is one of the most substantial regeneration projects under way in the UK and will change the face of Edinburgh.

A bit further south in Rochdale, we report on the latest project in an ambitious regeneration scheme which has featured steel construction throughout. This retail and leisure project has benefitted from a value engineering exercise carried out by steelwork contractor Hambleton under a design and build contract. Many projects would benefit from this sort of input if steelwork contractors were involved at the earliest stages of project planning, as the BCSA has continually emphasised.

Another retail-led regeneration in this issue is taking place at Warrington, part of a £110 million mixed-use scheme to regenerate a large part of the town centre comprising four steel-framed structures. The design is recognised as complex in parts, which is part of the reason that steel was selected according to the main contractor. Client Warrington Council says using steel has given them great confidence that the project will be delivered on time.

Other examples of steel supporting regeneration on brownfield sites can be read about in this month’s news, projects that are likely to feature in NSC at appropriate times. One of the most interesting is the Soho Place mixed-use scheme above the new Tottenham Court Road Crossrail Station. This landmark project will include a nine-storey and a 10-storey building above the first new theatre to be built in the West End for over 50 years. To call the site complex is a bit of an understatement, with piling having to contend with central London services and tube lines underneath.

Unless we build on parks and other recreational green spaces, inner-city developments are almost by definition on brownfield sites. And steel is often the definitive solution.

Nick Barrett – Editor

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