University of Central Lancashire

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) recently invested £60 million into the new student centre and university square, creating a new era for student support, as well as a vibrant space for the whole community of Preston to enjoy.

Balfour Beatty acted as Principal Contractor through a scope framework, with project management conducted by both Lancashire County Council and Balfour Beatty.  Bethell were engaged to deliver a robust civils groundworks package including:

The work was delivered in 5 phases over a two-year work period, with works commencing in June 2019 and closing on 4th October 2021.

The entire scheme was strategically designed to slow down traffic through the heart of the university campus without the use of speed bumps. This was achieved with splitter islands & ‘Median’ strips separating narrow lanes along with fully reinforced kerb beds that allows for heavy vehicles to drive over them when giving way to oncoming traffic.

Bethell were also responsible for the tree pits and drainage within the splitter island on Fylde Road and other various locations. The tree pits were excavated, lined, soiled by Bethell along with:

We also excavated a large planter opposite the Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC), including drainage layer, structural concrete beam placed around the outside, granite kerbed and lined with terram and organic topsoil.

There were many challenges faced throughout the construction period, the bigger items as follows-

Five stage Construction Phasing Plan- The project had to be delivered in a certain manner to allow the pedestrian and road traffic to continue with as little disruption as was practicable and all retailers, cafés, take-aways, residential properties and other businesses had to be kept open at all times so walkways and access routes had to be discussed and agreed regularly with the client as the differing phases progressed in order to maintain productivity and efficiency. There was a separate UCLan Student Centre construction project running concurrently with our works so phasing had to accommodate them too in spite of their contractors being well behind their programme. Site traffic routes had to be regularly agreed and updated as the materials lay down areas were mostly away from the working areas.

Intricate Construction Details- The Local Authority (Lancashire County Council- LCC) had previously delivered a similar type of scheme in Preston town centre however it had suffered many post-contract failures/settlement/subsidence. With lessons being learned, they were determined that these failures would not be repeated on the UCLan Highways project so the design was over engineered particularly to all kerbing and paved areas which were all constructed on compacted subbase, reinforced concrete slab beds, high strength mortar screed bedding and reinforced by both front & rear kerb nibs. Kerbs and all paving were high quality granite with a high strength grout joint infill and additional construction joints at 6m maximum intervals to allow for expansion & contraction.

Material Procurement- All the paving- kerbs, flags, setts, blocks were procured through Hardscape with the material coming from (mainly) China or Portugal with 12–15-week lead times so had to be scheduled accordingly. At the start of the project an allowance of 5% waste was factored in however, as works progressed the amount of cutting and wastage to some of the areas was considerably higher so further granite materials had to be procured in the middle of an international pandemic. Other materials and their deliveries at times were also affected by Covid-19 both in their delivery times and their inflated prices. Carriageway surfacing was a particularly straining time as the design detail was very grey here a decorative pre coated chip was expected to deliver a full highway spec performance to cater for a 20mph speed limit however, we proposed and delivered.

Compensation Events- There was a considerable amount of change to the scope of works brought on mainly by the amount of both known & unchartered underground apparatus and other obstructions, poor design detailing/lack of pre-construction planning, revised drainage design, Coronavirus, Phasing constraints particularly in respect to the Student Centre construction Project & inclement weather. In total there were over 110 Site Instructions issued & 300 change event notifications to the scheme. The value of these compensation events is £2m

UCLan’s ambitious £200m Master Plan is a prestigious project that has been six years in the making. Bethell are extremely proud to have been involved in the project, working collaboratively with the university, the local authority, and the project management team to create safer and more efficient high-quality finished roads & pedestrian walkways through the campus. Throughout our time on-site at UCLan we experienced zero health & safety breaches working through a hard-hitting Coronavirus pandemic, adding to our already impeccable record of delivering works safely, on time and to very high-quality standard.