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Galliford Try rebuilds cricket ground thanks to housebuild finance

The contractor is upping the capacity of Bristol’s county cricket ground through finance generated from a nearby new-build project.

Project: The County Ground, Bristol – Pavilion Improvement and Residential Development
Client: Gloucestershire County Cricket Club
Client: Linden Homes
Contract value: £20m
Region: South-west
Main contractor: Galliford Try
Concrete frame subcontractor: Stephenson
Steel frame subcontractor: JS Payne
Completion date: March 2014

There has hardly been a better time to be a cricket fan in England than now.

After years of struggle and toil, the England team is at last bringing some much-needed pride back to the home of cricket, just in time for the battle for the Ashes.

With the promise of swollen attendances driven by success in international fixtures, many clubs across the country have embarked on the refurbishment and regeneration of their grounds.

Gloucestershire County Cricket Club is the latest with a plan that will see its pavilion improved to provide new conferencing and media facilities, extended seating and balcony areas with improved bars and restaurants.

Housing scheme finances development

It will also see new spectator facilities refurbished and extended under the second phase of the project, which is being financed partly thanks to the construction of a new residential development running the length of the Ashley Down Road End, directly opposite the pavilion (see box).

Galliford Try senior project manager Jon Young is heading up the construction work, which is scheduled to complete in March 2014.

“There are two separate projects really,” he says. “The first is with Gloucestershire County Cricket Club to deliver phase 1 – the pavilion improvement – while our client for the residential scheme is [Galliford Try housebuilding arm] Linden Homes.

“Phase 2 of the ground improvement, which provides more permanent seating, has to be delivered by March 2014.”

That second phase has yet to be instructed, but with a one-day international between England and India planned for August 2014 and any work needing to be inspected by officials from the England and Wales Cricket Board beforehand, it shouldn’t be too long.

Stripped out pavilion to be doubled

In the meantime the site team has been busy working on the old pavilion in a scheme that has seen its footprint virtually double.

“Its front elevation has been brought forward by around 10 m and we have created a further floor and elevated the building,” Mr Young says. “Internally it has a completely new spatial layout and the top-class media facilities that are required to stage Category B games.”

The old structure, last refurbished in the 1980s, was stripped back to its shell, with the pennant stone cladding and slate roof being put aside for re-use.

The team used a steel frame, set on reinforced concrete pad foundations and featuring castellated beams, to draw the front elevation forward.

“Its front elevation has been brought forward by around 10 m, and we have created a further floor and elevated the building”

Jon Young, Galliford try

Floor slabs tie into the existing ones and have been constructed using a standard steel/concrete composite system. The largest of the reinforced concrete pads measure 3 m by 3 m and are around 1.5 m deep, reflecting the shallowness of the load-bearing clay/rock beneath.

The castellated beams allow services to be passed through them, ensuring there is no impact on floor-to-ceiling heights while still managing to provide the 10 m-wide spans required throughout.

Adaptable multi-use levels

An 18 m-long 3 m-deep roof truss runs the length of the new pavilion. Levels two and three are hung from this truss and provide a tiered press box on match day or a large double-height function suite at other times.

Precast concrete terrace units are being lifted into position at second and third-floor levels and will provide an extra 300 seats.

These are set on steelwork haunched back to the roof truss. Television and radio studios sit alongside with the facilities for the essential third umpire, which are stepped up to provide uninterrupted views along the wicket at the end closest to the Mound Stand.

Up on the membrane roof, a series of photovoltaic cells will guide the way for television cameramen working on the permanent steel gantry that runs the length of the pavilion.

Slate tiles saved from the original pavilion now clad the steeply sloping ends of the new roof.

It’s a monumental improvement for the ground which, alongside the massive strides taken by the national side’s on-pitch performance, will help cement the future of English cricket.

The tandem residential scheme

Like many major projects, the County Ground scheme depends heavily on the funding brought in by residential development.

In Bristol that comes in the shape of a four-block scheme to provide 147 Level 3 Code for Sustainable Homes apartments with one, two and three bedrooms topped off with penthouse apartments overlooking the cricket pitch.

Galliford Try is also carrying out the work on this section of the development under a £15.5m deal with its residential development arm Linden Homes.

Featuring a 180 m-long open-cut reinforced concrete basement, the competency of the ground has meant only isolated 400 mm-diameter temporary piles, 6 m long and socketed into the bedrock have been installed along the existing practice pitches.

Mass concrete pads around 3 m deep form the foundations to the lift and stairwell cores that service each of the four blocks.

The frame is a cast insitu reinforced concrete design with spans of up to 8 m throughout the structure. Slabs are generally 275 mm thick with columns of between 200 by 200 mm and 700 by 700 mm depending on their location.

“The frame will be built in around 27 weeks,” Mr Young says. “We have been averaging 310 cu m per week including the vertical elements.”

Work has been focused on bringing Blocks B, C and D up first, while Block A has been left behind to improve the efficiency of the build.

“We had always planned to work across three blocks, with Block D needing to be stripped and completed first. Block A was always lagging,” Mr Young says.

A giant arch will form the main entrance to the cricket club’s offices, shop and facilities on the ground floor of the central blocks. Manufactured using precast etched reconstituted natural stone, it will be installed early on in the cladding process to ensure that the rest of the finishes on the elevation are accurately set against it.

Underneath Block D a huge 1 m-thick reinforced concrete transfer slabs carries the load from the residential block above it over the entrance to the basement car park. Constructed during a 10-hour operation in the nearby school and college’s Easter break, the team used two pumps during the 420 cu m pour.

“We needed the early strength gain in the concrete, and the site team as well as the suppliers at Hanson engineered the mix perfectly,” Mr Young says.

The dry liners have now begun to set out the channels that will start to form the individual walls of each apartment, while the steel fixers close in on erecting the steel frame for the penthouses.


Minimising disruption to the cricket

In a sport where batsman regularly complain of being distracted by movement behind the bowler, Galliford Try has managed to continue working on the project at each end of the wicket.

Signs around the site warn of disrupting play and helping reduce the impact on GCCC, but with two 60 m jib tower cranes working at 40 m and 25 m high, that task must have been difficult.

“All our neighbours have been understanding,” Mr Young says. “We have been able to work with and alongside them to minimise any disruption.”

With the City of Bristol College, Ashley Down Infant School, scores of interested residents as well as the cricket club to work around, that has been no easy task.

Deliveries to the site are limited to being outside the morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times for the school, and the site team has been running a ‘red flag’ scheme where, on the rare occasion work has needed to continue beyond standard hours, a flag has been run up the site office flagpole, helping to keep residents informed.

With lorries removing materials from the demolished Jessops Stand and parts of the Mound Stand as well as some 12,000 cu m of earth during the basement excavation, the careful management of vehicles has proven crucial in maintaining the neighbours’ support for the project.

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