Stabilisation works on former Futurist site

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

We have issued the following statement today (Wednesday 9 January) to give the latest position about the stabilisation works being carried out on the former Futurist site.

Our priority and that of our contractor, Willmott Dixon, has always been to deliver the safest possible solution to maintain the stability of the slope at the rear of the site and protect the properties surrounding and adjacent to the site.

With engineering projects of this scale, sometimes changes to what was originally planned are unavoidable to achieve the required outcome. Willmott Dixon was originally proposing to construct a concrete retaining wall to stabilise the slope behind the Futurist.

The decision to use steel sheet pile walls as an alternative construction method had to be taken last month in order to provide necessary additional stability to the slope.

Different methods of installing the sheet piles were investigated. There is extensive knowledge of the ground conditions within the site, and whilst the hydraulic ramming method was considered, it was deemed not possible due to the ground conditions being too firm and the long length of the piles. Willmott Dixon sought and obtained the necessary statutory consents to install the piles using the current method of vibration and driving.

Whilst news of the method change was covered by local press and media in late November and was added to both the news section and planning section of the council’s website at the same time, it is regrettable that direct correspondence to neighbouring residents and businesses about the change in method was late in reaching them.

At the start of the project, the respective responsibilities under the Communications Plan had been agreed with Willmott Dixon who was tasked with updating adjacent property owners in regard to progress and any developments. Willmott Dixon has sincerely apologised for the oversight and will ensure that any further updates necessary are issued in a timely manner.

The costs of the project are still within the £4m budget approved by the council.

Willmott Dixon and the council have received a small number of reports of cracking in properties surrounding the site. Where such reports have been made, Willmott Dixon and the council’s appointed engineers have visited each property owner, viewed the alleged damage and in some cases, placed monitoring equipment in properties. Anyone neighbouring the site that has concerns about new damage to their property should report it to Willmott Dixon.

Detailed internal and external condition surveys were undertaken of all properties surrounding the site in advance of the demolition and slope stabilisation project commencing last year. When the works on site are completed, Willmott Dixon will be happy to revisit the properties of those who still have concerns to compare the conditions with those found in the original surveys. Willmott Dixon has confirmed that any damage caused as a result of their operations will be rectified by them at the end of the project. We are satisfied that Willmott Dixon is carrying satisfactory insurances to cover such eventualities.

Willmott Dixon and the council’s engineers have inspected a number of properties this week and we have no concerns for the safety of those properties and their occupants.

If residents are concerned about their insurance cover, we recommend that they speak to their insurance company directly.

The piling work will continue for the rest of this week and Willmott Dixon is working to complete it as quickly as possible. We apologise for any disturbance to site neighbours during this time.