On the first visit to Berkeley Homes' Roman House project, the Scheme Monitor noted how this site presented an excellent image of the industry and pushed forward the ethos of considerate construction.
Berkeley Homes discusses how they have adopted a considerate approach right from the very start.
1. Please can you describe the project you are working on?
Roman House is a Berkeley Homes (South East London) Ltd refurbishment project set in the City of London. This refurbishment has been running for approximately eighteen months. Construction work to date has seen the demolition and removal of the existing core and offices, and a build which includes completion of structural works, introduction of new floors, and creation of ninety new apartments. A landmark building redesigned and refurbished for city living, Roman House will offer 90 luxuriously appointed apartments and penthouses.
2. How have you incorporated the Scheme into your site?
The Considerate Constructors Scheme has and will continue to be incorporated within Roman House from design, all the way through to completion. Initially, Roman House set out both a demolition and construction method statement which was agreed with the City of London, and all the development's stakeholders which demonstrates the emphasis the project puts on community, and the local environment. We appreciate the importance of ensuring all parties are satisfied with how the project is going to progress from the very beginning.
Further to this, we have had to deal with challenges such as the tough logistical positioning of the site. Roman House stands in close proximity to the neighbouring 1950's Barbican residential development, an ancient Roman wall, and other construction sites being built around what is already a densely populated area.
Other elements include the need to ensure everyone's safety, be that those working on site, or pedestrians directly outside the building's footprint. We have also looked to put various good practices in place to ensure that our workforce benefit from working with us; we have encouraged local procurement, and also introduced a government supported apprenticeship scheme which ensures the further development of the younger generation on site.
3. Since the beginning of the project, what challenges have you faced?
As previously touched upon, one of the key challenges at Roman House is logistics; be that restricting noise to appease the neighbours, removing hundreds of tonnes of demolition waste on a busy road, preventing traffic on a street which has over five different construction sites working, or ensuring the public safety whilst all of the above is progressing.
Other challenges faced at Roman House were the planning requirements bestowed upon us; a target to employ 10% of our workforce from within the City's neighbouring boroughs, contributing to the development of the project's workforce, and ensuring local economic prosperity through a tailor-made procurement strategy.
4. How have you been able to overcome these?
We have looked to counter any problems that could arise from building so closely to a residential block by inviting them to come and visit the project. Further to this, we have built a project specific website, run by our construction team to keep any interested neighbours up-to-date. This is also publicised by monthly newsletters.
In terms of managing deliveries and the impact they have on the local environment, we run a Just-in-time (JIT) delivery system, where all deliveries have to be pre-booked with our logistics manager. This prevents causing congestion on the roads, whilst we also look to procure both materials and contractors locally – which means there is less chance of unscheduled arrivals coming from much further afield.
When striving to overcome rigorous planning requirements we looked to take advantage of what we considered to be a valuable considerate constructors requirement in terms of caring for the workforce. We did this by stipulating within all our subcontractors' contracts that at least 10% of their total workforce should come from within the projects neighbouring boroughs. This not only assists in bringing prosperity to the local area in terms of employment, but also minimises the time employees have to spend getting to and from work, and in turn assists us with one of our sustainability driven targets of reducing our carbon footprint.
As well as local employment, we have also specified that subcontractors employing over four operatives should take on one apprentice for the duration of their contract works. This has ensured that we are not only meeting our planning commitments, but also giving something back to the workforce, and our industry as a whole. We appointed Reds10 as our preferred apprentice provider who are a National Apprenticeship Service Accredited ATA, government recognised scheme. Reds10 directly employ the apprentices themselves on a PAYE basis and charge our subcontractors back for the hours they work on site. What we are particularly fond of with Reds10 is that they employ the apprentice for the two year duration of their NVQ, moving them around from project to project ensuring they get maximum experience and exposure to every aspect of their prospective trade.
5. Could you detail a few examples of good practice you have put in place on site?
There are a number of good practice examples implemented at Roman House. At present we have radios installed on each level of our hoist, to prevent the need for operatives to shout. This has been well received by residents. Further to this, in terms of the environment, we have installed permanent solar panels to the roof of Roman House prematurely to enable these to provide additional power to our site welfare. This has in turn reduced the amount of temporary power we have had to draw. Other sustainability related good practice examples include the use of a wash-station for our painters which recycles the water they are using to clean their paint pots and brushes.
Roman House is also proud to announce that we were also recently awarded the '10 Tonnes Achievement Award' by Community Wood Recycling. This is another example of job creation within the local community. We have worked with a local contractor to remove waste pallets from site, which are re-used. Since July, we have recycled 10 tonnes of pallets.
The development has also looked to improve the health of our operatives; good practice initiatives in relation to this have included quarterly nurse visits for all site staff, and taking part in the NHS 'Stoptober' campaign. The nurse visits entail a ten minute sit down; checking operatives' blood pressure, cholesterol, lung capacity, and basic eye test. This has proved popular around site, with a bit of 'healthy' competition amongst the subcontractors. We are also proud to announce that 10 of 16 site operatives that took part in our 'Stoptober' quit smoking campaign have stopped smoking for good.
6. Any other comments?
We at Roman House were pleased to have recently been awarded a score of 46/50 by the Scheme on our first Monitor visit. For our future visits we are working on incorporating some further good practice initiatives which include a day in the diary with Southwark Schools' Careers Fair. This fair will see some of Berkeley's professional team spending the day talking to prospective young builders, showing them the 'white collar' opportunities there are around construction. We have representatives attending from Site Management, Commercial, and Environmental. We are also looking to incorporate the recent Scheme 'Cause for Complaint' posters into our site hoarding.
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