Value: £229,000

Client: Great Academies Education Trust

Start Date: July 2020 

Finish Date: September 2020 

We were tasked with the construction of a new playground area for Middleton Technology School as part of a new extension to the high school.  Unused allotments and fields were to be transformed into a 2000m2 playground to increase outdoor capacity and to allow more space for pupils to take part in outdoor activities.  One of the challenges we were faced was discharging any excess water off the newly surfaced area, this was to be achieved by utilising porous materials and the installation of a new drainage system.

After assessing the original designs, we brought to the Client's attention that they did not take these requirements into consideration and that the cross sections of the playground took no account of existing levels.  We immediately offered our expertise and started percolation tests to assess the terrain for the new playground to be built on.  Upon discovering clay in the ground, the conclusion was that water permeating the playground would need redirecting to a drainage outlet.  We re-designed the entire sub structure taking these factors into consideration and brought in permeable designers from Tarmac in at the design stage to assist in the process.

Due to the time of year, non-stop rain made site conditions challenging, particularly for heavy vehicles that risked churning up the ground.  To accommodate to the changing weather conditions and the importance of keeping to the clients timeframe, a flexible approach was adopted, this included reprogramming the works.

As we were sited on the school grounds, we were aware that disruption was to be kept to a minimum and maintained strong communication between our team and the school, this included keeping the School Site Manager informed through daily briefings.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were very few ongoing classes, but we ensured access was maintained and parking was provided for staff.  To further minimise interference, we worked weekend hours so that the school was empty, helping us to keep on programme. When working midweek, we were particularly mindful of a class of special needs students attending the school and kept noise disruption to a minimum, withdrawing work when required.  Appropriate measures were taken to protect the existing carriageway and playground from any damage by laying 200m of heavy-duty vehicle mats for deliveries and wagons.

Due to the unforeseen issues with designs, we carried out extra work to help design and calculate a suitable permeable playground for Middleton School. We understood that additional costs were not an option, so we proposed a cost-saving innovative idea that would keep the project on budget.  

This proposal was to reusage the materials on site, this meant we would retain 2000-3000 tonnes of material and reprofile the existing embankment.  Through softening the slope and landscaping the surroundings as well as dismantling and re-erecting palisade fencing, we saved the Client £30k-£40k, which was put towards unforeseen additional costs.  We successfully delivered the project on programme and within the tight budget requirements.