Operating an essential site during uncertain times

Operating an essential site during uncertain times
Home Insights Operating an essential site during uncertain times

How new ways of working are helping to deliver one of the Midlands’ most challenging and important projects

I have been in the construction business for a long time and I don’t think I have ever worked on a project that somebody didn’t consider essential.

From our perspective, there is a business imperative attached to every project of course but they also represent so much more than that.

A construction project is a huge undertaking and is often the realisation of the hopes and dreams of a whole team of people who have toiled for years before the first shovel gets anywhere near the ground. Also, every project, big or small, has the potential to be transformational and to create a legacy that will change people’s lives.

Delivering successful construction projects is rarely a matter of life and death but it should never be underestimated how critical they are to the people behind them and, equally importantly, the people who will benefit from them in the future.

Discover some of the ways Wates Construction’s team has implemented new ways of working on-site at the Nottingham College City Hub in this video, featuring an introductory message from Chief Executive of Nottingham College, John van de Laarschot.

Adapting to a new world

It is a responsibility we take incredibly seriously at Wates and one that weighed heavily when the current crisis began to take hold during those increasingly uncertain weeks in March of this year.

When the lockdown was announced, we had no choice but to close our sites along with many other businesses in the country. In those two days that the sites were closed, our teams were working around the clock, adapting and evolving processes so that we could re-open the sites while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everybody involved.

In normal times every site offers a range of different challenges that have to be overcome, all of which were then exacerbated by the new restrictions and the more complex the project, the more innovative our teams have had to be to get the project running again.

Nottingham City Hub – a transformational facility

One of the most challenging – and important – projects we are currently delivering in the Midlands is the Nottingham City Hub, a major new education and community facility that will transform a previously neglected city centre district.

Surrounded on four sides by a main arterial route, residential developments, tram lines and a cliff edge, there have been numerous obstacles to overcome throughout this project and so everyone involved has had to really go the extra mile to ensure the project has remained on track throughout this period.

From ensuring that all colleagues, sub-contractors and suppliers could actually get to the site to dealing with issues around social distancing and the difficulty in obtaining materials, the team have been exceptional. In fact, across our sites we have found that not only have our teams found a way to take projects forward, some are doing so more efficiently than before the crisis begun!

Indeed, we are seeing great innovation where the supply chain is adapting to new ways of working to combat the challenges of social distancing, introducing mechanical solutions for tasks like the installation of glazed balustrades, allowing for the extra manpower to be prepping rather than helping with the installation itself.

All of this fantastic work means that the project is on target for completion at the beginning of October. This will see us deliver a vision that will not only change the cityscape in this part of Nottingham but provide a real legacy for many years to come that goes beyond this fantastic building itself, something I would definitely describe as essential.

The state-of-the-art project is being procured through Major Works – UK, a part of the Scape National Construction framework. The framework has been specifically designed to deliver significant levels of local economic engagement, ongoing apprenticeship schemes and extensive community initiatives.

It’s been fantastic to see everybody involved with the project come together during these uncertain times. An increase in collaboration across the supply chain has been key to help minimise the ongoing disruption and allow the project to safely remain on track for completion this year.

“As we look towards a sustainable recovery from the current crisis, projects like the Nottingham City Hub are vital to ensure that opportunities to support and nurture the younger generation and their communities remain firmly in place.

Mark Robinson

Scape Group chief executive