Winner: Balfour Beatty and SPI Appleton – Helix Canal Project
Sustainability can be broadly defined, covering not just benefits to the environment, but also economic and social gains.
Balfour Beatty and SPI Appleton’s project to create a green space and extend the Helix Canal ticks all these boxes.
The scale of this scheme threw up “huge challenges”, our judges said - all of which the team tackled with aplomb.
The community regeneration project covers 350 ha and helps connect 16 previously separate communities.
The iconic Kelpies project, the largest equine sculptures in the world, were part of the wider project but completed by a separate contractor.
This regeneration project made use of existing woodland to breathe new life into the area, as well as regenerating previously contaminated industrial land.
“The macro nature of this project threw up major challenges. It’s a huge and very impressive scheme”
Balfour Beatty co-ordinated and managed the design and construction of the project, with SPI Appleton carrying out the piling on the scheme.
Works included building a 65 m-long underpass to allow the canal to pass under the busy M9 motorway, all while managing heavy traffic.
The team used extensive temporary works to get the job done, diverting the main carriageway to allow construction of a cofferdam.
The contractor also reviewed the earthworks strategy early on and tweaked it to retain far more material onsite, incorporating it into landscaping work and significantly reducing waste.
Safety was a paramount concern as well, with zero lost-time incidents throughout the scheme.
In all, the project has connected up 200 km of pathways and cycleways.
Visitor numbers to the park generally have been much higher than expected.
The team estimated 400,000 visitors in its first year - in reality, the number has been around 850,000.
The project has left an extremely positive legacy for the local community, bringing it together and improving the quality of life for the next generation.
Community groups have sprung up to take advantage of the space, with nature projects moving in to use the new facilities - a place has even been found for beekeeping.
And while the area’s biodiversity and community cohesion have both improved, corralling a large number of disparate stakeholders together to produce a regeneration on a scale as large as this was “very impressive”, the judges said.
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