Community consideration soared at Berkeley Homes (South East London) Ltd’s Saffron Square project

Berkeley Homes’ Saffron Square project in Croydon – a five-block development of 792 apartments, and a separate 44-storey tower – was praised by the Scheme Monitor for its innovative and exceptional practice.

Work on the development began in 2009 and finished in Spring 2017, with the five apartment blocks already being earmarked for occupation as work was being carried out on the main 44-storey tower building.

This major development saw an average of 20 different trades working throughout the tower each day, from completions on the lower levels to the first fixes higher up in the tower.

Despite such a large operation, the Berkeley Homes (South East London) Ltd project team was praised for its environmental innovation.

Berkeley Homes was commended for using rubber cradles made from recycled truck tyres in the underfloor heating system.

Praising this initiative the Scheme Monitor said:

“By using this system, 1277 tyres have been diverted from landfill and approximately 95 per cent of all waste produced has been recycled; water consumption has been reduced by 10 per cent and carbon emissions reduced by 18 per cent.”

Outlining the project team’s consideration for the environment, Senior Project Manager, Paul Dunnett said:

“Recycling is promoted on site, with many trades buying into the idea. Paint cans are also sent back to the paint manufacturer and recycled. Environmental audits take place each month to monitor the sustainability of the site and the build work. These reports are collated across Berkeley sites and data is published to show the different results across the company.”


Paul said that one of the challenges posed to the project team was working within a busy neighbourhood, surrounded by residents and community amenities.

“We have a church and a school on the north boundary. We built the blocks closest to the church and school first to create a barrier between them and the live site. We liaised with the church for funerals and stopped works so as not to disrupt them. We also worked with the school to minimise disruption to the lessons and we replaced the tarmac to the playground and marked it out for different games pitches.

“On the other boundaries with footpaths, we erected crash decks and walkways to protect the public. We have kept residents informed via monthly newsletters of progress and upcoming activities so they feel included in the process.”

Another priority during this project was a commitment to health and safety which ran throughout operations. Paul said:

“We operate many safety incentives on site, such as a Health & Safety leadership board between the contractors in which the winning trade is awarded with a free breakfast for each operative.

“Cards are also issued for H&S behaviour – yellow and red for unsafe work and green for promoting safe work. All accidents are recorded on site including near misses. Site managers are all first aid trained and all trades must have a first aider on site, identified on their hi-vis.”

You can read a few of the many examples of best practice implemented by Berkeley Homes (South East London) Ltd below:

  • Taking pride in the appearance of the site, the condition of the hoarding was constantly monitored and displayed Berkeley signage and information, promoting the site and the schemes we are part of.
  • All operatives wore branded PPE from the site and their contractors, as well as other useful information such as ‘First Aider’ and ‘Translator’ signage.
  • To engage with the community at Saffron Square a ‘Quality of Life’ survey was commissioned with the London School of Economics. The results of this are being studied and Berkeley are working with the management company to see what changes can be made to improve the community further.
  • Monthly newsletters were sent out by both the build and the customer care teams to update residents on the ongoing work. The neighbouring school was also invited onto the site, with a talk given on site information and careers in construction, as well as a tour of the site which was well received by the students.
  • Environmental audits took place each month to monitor the sustainability of the site and the build work; these reports were collated across Berkeley sites and data was published to show the different results across the company.
  • All waste and timber tickets were submitted online and trackers were completed to monitor this. Recycling is promoted on site with many trades buying into the idea; for example the rubber cradles used under the flooring were recycled from tyres, with 1277 tyres being diverted from landfill.
  • Paint cans were sent back to the manufacturer and recycled. Energy saving posters were displayed throughout the site and steps have been taken to boost energy efficiency, such as PIR lights in offices and PIR taps in temporary toilets.
  • All apartments had a master light switch installed to reduce the chances of lights being left on when not in use and the carbon footprint information was collated for the site and compared across the region to see where any changes could be made.
  • Safety was a very important issue at Saffron Square, as recognised by the NHBC who awarded the project team as the National Winners of the 2015 Health & Safety awards. All site workers had to take a site induction which runs through the site procedures and their details such as medical issues, emergency contact and CSCS.
  • Welfare facilities on site were kept in excellent condition, with male and female drying and changing rooms provided, as well as showers. Drinking water was provided throughout the building and free squash in the canteen. An anonymous suggestions or complaints box was available for any feedback from the workforce.
  • An OHSE nurse was scheduled to visit every two months which is open to all on site. We also had an association with MIND Croydon and posters and leaflets on health and lifestyle issues were displayed on site.
  • Occupational health assessments took place every two months and these were carried out by a nurse who was also trained in psychology and could therefore assist with mental health issues.
  • Approximately 12 apprentices were employed on site and work placements were available to the ‘Street Elite’ scheme for disadvantaged young people. Electrical students have visited the site for work experience with the electrical subcontractor.
  • Air cooling provided during hot weather periods, with drinking water available throughout the building, and free orange juice provided.

Recently published