First phase of Student Centre and Civic Square preparations completed

19 June 2018

Essential work carried out quickly and efficiently

The first two phases of enabling works for the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) £57m Student Centre and Civic Square in Preston have been hailed a success.

The first phases of enabling works have seen Greater Manchester land and built environment consultancy, The LK Group, working with public realm design engineers, Civic Engineers, carry out ground and water investigations of the 16 hectare plot in order to establish the precise locations of utilities, distribution networks and other underground features.

The £200,000 works saw The LK Group dig over half a kilometre of trenches along roads and footpaths and use pioneering new vacuum extraction techniques to safely extract soil and stone from the trenches.

The LK Group used a 32 tonne vacuum extraction machine imported from Germany in order to safely carry out the soil extraction in an area with a high density of utilities and services.

The works have been undertaken ahead of the construction phase of the student centre, which is currently scheduled to commence in early 2019.

The project, which is part of the University’s £200 million Masterplan development, will create an iconic gateway to the city of Preston, while the new civic square will span 8,440 sqm to provide flexible spaces for a wide range of community, public, business and student uses.

The completion of the works means that recent weekend road closures of Corporation Street, Friargate, Moor Lane, Adelphi Street and Fylde Road have been lifted.

"The teams involved have been doing everything possible to ensure this essential work has been carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible, to minimise any inconvenience."

For The LK Group, the works come hot on the heels of its project management of the multi-million-pound Public Realm transformation of Altrincham Town Centre on behalf of Trafford Council.

In 2010, Altrincham had the worst shop vacancy rate in the UK, which saw shop vacancies fall by almost three-quarters. The public realm transformation has totally revitalised the town centre and footfall has risen to 1.74m - a 5% increase year-on-year since 2016.

Principal Geotechnical Engineer, Garth Brownsword, who heads up The LK Group’s geotechnical division, said: “UCLan’s new student centre and civic square is a landmark project that will help to transform Preston and create a new public space which the whole city can enjoy and be proud of.

“It was very important to ourselves and the university that we reduced disruption to motorists, students and the wider public during these enabling works.

“It’s a testament to the quality of the team we have, that we have been able to successfully deploy pioneering vacuum extraction techniques in order to complete this project safely, on time and within budget, minimising disruption to the local community and maximising value for the client.

“Having project managed the public realm transformation works in Altrincham, this UCLan project is a great showcase of LK’s capabilities, which includes street works and utility investigations as part of the multiple services we offer to clients.”

Following an increase in site investigations and land remediation work in excess of 50% since 2012, The LK Group now employs 42 people.

Michael Ahern, UCLan’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “The teams involved have been doing everything possible to ensure this essential work has been carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible, to minimise any inconvenience. This will ensure works can be carried out on time and with minimal disruption once construction begins in early 2019.”