CMYA Finalist

Employer: Willmott Dixon Construction

Project: Waterside Drive, Walton-on-Thames

Joining midway through preconstruction for this sports facility, Phillip Brooks arrived at a point of mounting crisis.

The team had yet to get a grip on scope and costings, and information was constantly changing, driving the project value way above the budget and leaving the client tense, frustrated and worried.

The big problem was the site itself – a heavily contaminated former quarry leaking pollutants into a river just 20 metres away. The scale and complexity of the environmental challenge required an expertise in landfill mining and tip engineering that few main contractors possess. The initial site clearance and preparation plan envisaged a pile and raft construction solution across almost the entire site, which was one of the main reasons the scheme was so overbudget.

Phil’s great triumph was to find an engineering approach that made the piling redundant. His research identified a stabilisation specialist that Willmott Dixon had not worked with previously and which offered a remediation scheme that allowed the pile and raft to be omitted for the running track and football pitches.

The solution was two-fold. First, a permeable reactive barrier was installed to neutralise the escape of any contaminated water during the site works into the local water course and the river. Second, a series of driven tubes linked by a header pipe were installed as gas escape vents to prevent any underground gas entering nearby properties,

As well as ensuring the site was clean, stable and usable, Phil’s change of strategy dramatically reduced costs, bringing the final scheme value very close to the client’s budget. The client’s confidence rose, laying the foundations for a solid relationship for the rest of the project.

That relationship grew even stronger following Phil’s solution to a major landscaping problem. With too little site-won soil available to cover the entire public open space to the depth required, He contacted the sites of other contractors nearby and found one that was cutting material from playing fields. Testing showed it was perfect for his needs and he was able to import it for free. Few clients can resist a near-£200,000 saving that requires no quality or programme compromise, and this client warmly praised the facility delivered and Phil’s contribution to it.