Thameslink Programme: Farringdon Station Redevelopment

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CEEQUAL Excellent (90.3%) – Whole Project Award
Version 4, March 2012

  • Winner of a CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Award 2013 for Ecology & Biodiversity
  • Highly Commended CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Award 2013 for the Historic Environment

Project team

Client: Network Rail
Design: Atkins
Construction: Costain / Laing O’Rourke (Joint Venture)

Project summary

Farringdon station is one of three central London stations that are being transformed by the £6 billion Thameslink programme (TLP). The station is located within a built up commercial, residential and conservation area, and is itself a Grade II listed building. The station is owned and operated by London Underground, who lease two of the four platforms to Network Rail for the Thameslink services (currently operated by First Capital Connect). It is at the crossroads of London’s transport investment, the point at which north-south Thameslink meets east-west Crossrail. The purpose of the project has been to redevelop the station to facilitate increased Thameslink train and passenger capacity, and also to deliver some of the advance works associated with the adjacent Crossrail station. In addition to this, the station had to remain open and working at all times for the duration of the works and pedestrian flows could not be compromised.

One of the key drivers for the project was the Thameslink programme sustainable design and construction strategy, which set out the programme’s targets and objectives. The project team sought to achieve standards to far exceed basic requirements as evidenced by the target to achieve a CEEQUAL “Excellent” Award, the Considerate Constructor Scheme award, Costain’s ISO14001 certification, and best practice in heritage management.

Following a public local inquiry in 2005 / 2006, Transport and Works Act (TWA) order powers, and associated deemed planning direction and listed building consent were granted by the Secretary of State on 22 November 2006. As well as the requirements to discharge the conditions of the planning permission and listed building consents, the powers tied the project into legal commitments made to objectors to the scheme, and to implementing the environmental mitigation set out by the company in the Environmental Statement.

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Heritage and town planning requirements

The most significant impact of the work was due to the importance of the building’s heritage. The building is Grade II listed, but railway stations in Greater London are under the direction of English Heritage (EH) and therefore the determination process is the same as for a Grade I listed building.

New planning permission, and listed building consent for the listed parts of the site, were required for any new additional work scope or changes to the approved design. It was necessary to obtain three very significant additional consents in the course of the project, for the Turnmill Street concourse, changes to the new Integrated Ticket Hall (ITH) façade, and for the extensive works to the existing LU station building. By July 2011, 300 planning submissions were identified for the Farringdon project (including applications to discharge planning conditions). Only 65 of these submissions were related to the TWA order deemed planning and listed building consents, and the rest were as a result of subsequent changes in scope, design, and temporary works, a project workload and resource requirement that was not originally fully anticipated. As a result the project recruited town planning and heritage specialist resources into its consents team, in addition to those originally envisaged.

In addition to this, the project programme was extremely challenging, and due to delays in the completion of the design, the timescales for obtaining these planning requirements, including three new significant planning and listed building applications, were severely compressed.

In response, the consents team implemented best practice from specialist experience of other recent major heritage and railway projects including, in particular, Channel Tunnel Rail Link St Pancras, Crossrail, and Kings Cross.

The consents team was also responsible for compiling statements of significance relating to the importance of the heritage fabric, impact assessments, and for working with the contractor to write method statements, all in support of the listed building consent applications. This was undertaken by the Farringdon project as best practice, and has subsequently become a requirement of Planning Policy Statement 5. The project also undertook building recording throughout the site as best practice.

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Noise and nuisance

Aside from the built heritage and town planning aspects, the main impact of the works has been the potential nuisance to residential and commercial neighbours. This was well recognised in the public inquiry, and many legal agreements, in the form of undertakings and commitments, were entered into with individuals, businesses, and other organisations. Additionally, the Environmental Statement, and its associated specialist reports, set out a range of environmental mitigation measures that would be implemented. Many of these requirements relate to nuisance. TLP have a number of policies and processes that must be complied with in order to discharge these requirements, and the contractor’s roles and responsibilities in this are set out in specific CEP (consents, environment, property) contract conditions.

The main potential nuisance impact is noise. Aside from the close proximity of our neighbours the project is also constrained by railway working hours which require that works adjacent or over the railway can only be undertaken during night-time and weekend engineering hours or possessions.

Network Rail worked collaboratively with the contractor to ensure compliance with the TLP policy requirement to work under a section 61 consent. Implementing best practice from previous projects the project team established from the outset:

  • Good communications and working relations with the environmental health officer, including regular, two-weekly site visits to review site progress, consent compliance, monitoring data, and complaints.
  • Six-monthly consent applications, to ensure that the consent takes account of changes to the programme.
  • Workshop sessions with Costain engineers to collate the information required for each consent application, attended by the contractor’s acoustic consultant, to ensure that the complicated predictions could be compiled as efficiently as possible.
  • Regular, six-monthly training for the Costain engineers, and Network Rail project managers, as part of the workshops.
  • Accurate recording, monitoring and investigation of complaints.
  • Working with the contractor to identify implementation and innovation in best practicable means.
  • Regular, four-weekly review of site compliance.
  • Excellent community relations.

As a result of this regime the project has been very successful in gaining trust so that consent applications were granted, including, for example, necessary extended working hours. As an indicator of the success of this approach, very few complaints were received relating to construction noise. Further success was demonstrated during the demolition of a twelve storey building immediately opposite a six storey residential block. These works resulted in a considerable amount of extended working hours.

Associated with the requirements to minimise nuisance noise and to seek prior approval from the local authority under a Section 61 consent, the project team had to fulfil the requirements agreed at the public inquiry relating to noise insulation. The project team compiled noise predictions in order to identify eligible properties, and then to manage the consultation and community relations requirements for making offers of noise insulation and arranging installation for approximately 20 properties.

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Piling into the aquifer

The project is located above a chalk aquifer and to comply with Environment Agency guidance the team was required to undertake a risk assessment for the deep (38m) piles supporting the new integrated ticket hall. The twin cased piling technique used in preparation for the Crossrail tunnelling served to protect the aquifer from potential contamination to the satisfaction of the Environment Agency.

Designing out waste

The project set targets relating to waste, and CEEQUAL was a useful tool in this way to try and encourage Atkins to design out waste at the outset, for example in the use of off-site prefabrication where possible. Costain took this forward and with the added benefit of minimising nuisance noise used pre-cast concrete elements where possible. Other examples of waste minimisation and on-site reuse included:

  • Reuse of heritage bricks from demolition in the construction of the new Turnmill St concourse building (this is a listed building consent condition).
  • Use of crush material from the demolition of Cardinal Tower as piling mat.
  • On-site batching plant which minimised the amount of waste concrete produced.

The project worked with WRAP to try and seek outlets for some particular waste streams from the demolition of Cardinal Tower, for example carpet tiles, window glass, kitchen and bathroom fittings. Costain also implemented a high level of contaminated land sampling in order to minimise the disposal of waste as hazardous material. Demolition waste recovery rates of >95% were consistently achieved as all non-hazardous waste was transferred to a materials recycling facility (MRF), and from mid-way through the programme the project was reporting 100% diversion from landfill as the residual waste from the MRF was sent to an energy from waste plant.

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Community relations and engagement

The project has achieved what Network Rail considered best practice in terms of communications and community relations. The project team implemented the following measures:

  • Introduction of a regular monthly news letter, which was distributed to ~1000 neighbours. The news letter gave a look-ahead of the works to be undertaken, particularly to give advanced notice of extended working hours that would cause disturbance. It also served in support of public consultation on the major planning applications.
  • Regular community meetings and open evening events, consultation events (in support of major planning applications), and take part (and host) with Crossrail in a community forum, which was chaired by local councillors, and attended by representatives of the key community stakeholders including residents, businesses, and officers.
  • Development of the project’s community engagement programme.
  • Implementation of the local authority’s policies on local procurement and employment, working to a target of 10% of project value spend.
  • Implementation of local authority’s local employment initiative and successfully provided 20 placements for long term unemployed people, some of which lead onto full time permanent contracts.

Network Rail has recently marked the successful completion of the project with a public exhibition of ‘Farringdon: past, present and future’ which celebrates the heritage work and the major improvements to the infrastructure.

Energy and carbon

The more challenging areas of sustainability performance, and CEEQUAL, have been energy and carbon, material use, and waste minimisation.

An early options appraisal proposed a range of alternative energy initiatives, which were investigated but discounted. This includes ground-source heat pumps, wind turbines, and photo-voltaics. A number of options set out in the project original optional appraisal have been incorporated in the design as a matter of course, and are considered standard practice by the designer. The design of the buildings comply with building regulations (i.e. Part L) in terms of its performance in use. However, embodied energy and carbon of the building’s design has been an area that has really challenged the project, particularly to meet the requirements of Version 4 of CEEQUAL to consider embodied energy and carbon through Life Carbon Analysis sufficiently early to inform the design.

Material use and sustainable procurement

The project team has been successful in focusing on material use and sustainable procurement. The project team developed a material use plan during the design phase, in line with the best practice encouraged by the requirements of CEEQUAL. The aim of the material use plan had been to assess the performance of potential materials in order to influence the design and specification. The top 10 materials (by volume) were assessed against a set of twenty criteria during the design phase, and the construction team integrated the tool into the procurement process for the assessment of the majority of materials used.

Further to this, the project team undertook sustainable procurement supply chain audits of key materials, and an exercise to measure performance against the new British Standard, BS 8903, sustainable procurement in construction, and the accompanying CIRIA guide, C695.

These initiatives in supply chain and procurement are considered to be best practice for Network Rail, and will be useful in informing the corporate sustainable procurement strategies currently in development.

Ecological habitat creation

The project did not have a particular impact on ecology as no ecological sensitivities were identified. However, new habitats will be created because the new ticket hall building includes a brown roof, which was identified early on in the design process by Network Rail as an option for further development. The brown roof, 700m2, will contribute 20% of the Borough’s annual BAP target for habitat creation, and was made a condition of the planning permission for the building. The main purpose of the roof is to provide habitat for low invertebrates, and which will in turn provide foraging for black redstarts. It will also make a contribution to the project’s SUDS performance.

To what extent did the use of CEEQUAL influence your project?

CEEQUAL helped the project to both measure and drive performance. Although some of the areas were well evidenced as a result of the nature and scale of the project, all of the three organisations were challenged in the areas of carbon and material use. As a result, the next and final phase of the Thameslink programme’s new targets and objectives have been established to focus on these areas. A carbon baseline is being calculated and a carbon policy will be established, material use plans are now a standard requirement for all contracts, and Thameslink has established a contractors’ sustainable procurement forum.