HOCHTIEF Taylor Woodrow Joint Venture’s relief road in Hastings won over local residents
Despite initial delays due to local opposition over the road, which encompasses the popular 1066 Battle of Hastings walking route, the project has won over the hearts and minds of residents.
HOCHTIEF Taylor Woodrow Joint Venture’s Bexhill to Hastings link road project team was highly praised by the Scheme for delivering an “outstanding performance” in all areas of the Code of Considerate Practice.
This major new 5.6km-long road encompasses bridges, culverts, tunnels, embankments and substantial landscaping and planting, opening up previously inaccessible areas in this picturesque region of great historic interest.
Carried out on behalf of the client, East Sussex County Council, the new road is aimed at regenerating the most deprived areas of the south-east of the county.
Describing the project, Paula Hales, the project’s Senior Safety Advisor said:
“The project involved the construction of a 5.6km single carriageway road linking the junction with the A259 at Belle Hill in Bexhill and the B2092 Queensway in Hastings. The Link Road is expected to help bring 2000 new homes, 3000 new jobs and more than £1 billion of economic benefit to the area.
“It will also relieve the high level of traffic congestion on the A259 between Bexhill and Hastings and on other local roads. The project will open up a part of the countryside with designated cycle and equestrian routes to areas that were once inaccessible and often under water.”
The project was not without its challenges and during the early stages protesters took up residence near Adam’s Farm and Decoy Woods, which created media interest and caused some delays to enabling works. Other hurdles the project team had to overcome included construction works situated close to residential properties and restricted routes and access.
“The project has also been challenging due to soft ground conditions into valleys and relentless adverse weather. The project is environmentally sensitive – a number of watercourses cross the site which lies close to two sites of Special Scientific Interest. There has been an extensive programme of archaeology and detailed searches for unexploded ordnance.
“One way the project team won over the hearts and minds of the community was by employing a dedicated public liaison officer to engage and communicate with neighbours and the general public.
“The team initially faced local opposition but have since built bridges with the locals and kept them informed. Community work has been carried out in the local schools and the team has volunteered with St Michael’s Hospice and the Hasting Pier Trust. We have supported a number of charity events, opening golf raffles and facilitating a 10k run along the route before it opened, along with individual staff raising funds. The project team has monitored both negative and positive publicity, producing monthly reports.”
Here are some examples of best practice initiatives carried out by HOCHTIEF Taylor Woodrow Joint Venture:
- Permanent road sweeping facilities were supplemented by jet wash stations on all exits and vehicles were checked before leaving.
- Complex car park and satellite areas were maintained to a very high standard, with suitable storage of materials and machinery regularly checked.
- Public footpaths and surrounding areas were checked twice daily, cleared, and any incidents were recorded, with appropriate action taken.
- The site operated an ‘active close call’ reporting system, including welfare conditions, and the team responded if standards began to decline.
- Footwear covers were used in the office.
- Both the Scheme and ICE boards were placed in prominent places, with exits at all points along the route.
- Four dust suppression bowsers were permanently working on-site.
- Gate control staff had access to road sweepers and dust suppression equipment operators used two-way radios for immediacy.
- A dedicated Public Liaison Officer was responsible for engaging with and communicating to neighbours and the general public.
- Communications took place between the local community and business groups and feedback was requested as to how the project could improve, and any identified issues were quickly resolved.
- Operatives received regular toolbox talks regarding interaction with the general public.
- There were very high levels of support for local and social events, including providing a team to carry out clearance of debris under the Hastings Pier which was being rebuilt.
- There was a comprehensive reporting system of all compliments and complaints which were received via the highways authority and the site.
- Construction vehicles and deliveries were sent specific route programmes.
- Construction traffic was not permitted to travel through local villages.
- There was great engagement with local primary schools, as well as Ivor Goodsite information provided and Hunt the Hazard site sign displayed.
- Management team attended school assemblies, helped at other school events and engaged in safety and environmental projects.
- Several visits were arranged for young people and this high profile project was visited by a Government Minister of State, MPs and other dignitaries.
- More isolated residents were regularly visited by the site foreman to keep them informed of progress.
- Roundabout improvement works were carried out as a complimentary contribution to the community and forms part of the completion legacy.
- Two neighbours have sight impairment so the project team provided them with large print information. One has a guide dog and two supervisors were given ‘Step Up’ awards recognising their commitment to working with this neighbour and assisting the guide dog in learning the new routes.
- The Public Liaison Officer attended the local Bexhill Forum – just one example of a community meeting she attended – and gave a presentation, together with a questions and answers session.
- A staffed canteen was provided by a local catering company and approximately 65-70% of operatives on-site were from the local area.
- For each close call on site, £1 was donated to St Michael’s Hospice in Hastings.
- Extensive environmental impact assessments and preconstruction surveys were undertaken where issues were identified and mitigation measures implemented through documentation and management.
- A fully detailed environmental management plan and landscape and ecology plan were developed and managed.
- The site introduced a free ‘lunch and learn’ midday session enabling the environmental manager and team to explore any issues in greater depth.
- A full-time environmental manager was appointed as Scheme champion, who was supported by an assistant and technical specialists in ecology, noise, water resources and contaminated land.
- Introduction of CITB environmental training for engineers and continuation with specific environmental training.
- The site held regular environmental leadership courses and this project was achieving the highest scores within the company.
- In addition to the contractual requirements, significant areas of landscaping, ponds and ditches will form part of the completed project and leave behind a positive legacy.
- A local ornithologist was a regular visitor. Bird crossings were introduced and operatives were made fully aware of the families of geese residing on one of the ponds.
- A visiting ecologist identified a wild bee colony which was relocated.
- June was earmarked as ‘wildlife on site’ month and the site asked for contributions for a photo competition. This proved a good way to engage with operatives and raise awareness of environmental issues.
- Protection of the public was paramount and working areas were fenced and protected, together with security and travelling security patrols.
- The site introduced a monthly stand-down, whereby operatives attended a meeting where topical subjects were covered by a variety of invited guest speakers. Among the topics covered were safety, occupational health, environment and quality.
- Subcontractors were required to hold their own monthly safety meetings.
- Two defibrillators were purchased and 13 direct employees were trained to use it.
- Operatives were issued with a keyring which contained emergency information.
- Roads crossed by construction vehicles were fully controlled by traffic lights.
- Top five ‘at risk’ boards were strategically placed in prominent areas and included highlighting specific risks or activities for that particular day or week.
- The supply chain, including subcontractors and suppliers, was required to complete a form indicating registration with FORS.
- Companywide safety news flash reports were displayed to share lessons learnt from other projects.
- A 12-point HR policy was in place, covering respect, equality, diversity and inclusion in action.
- Respect posters were displayed throughout the welfare facilities, including an independent and confidential helpline freephone number.
- The entire workforce were required to display ICE stickers on their hardhats and complete necessary paperwork.
- The main welfare facilities included a staffed canteen and showers and external contractors employed staff to carry out cleaning of the welfare facilities in both the complex and satellite areas.
- The Women in Construction campaign was being actively promoted to encourage more females into employment in the construction industry.
- Monthly visits were staged by occupational health nurses with responsibility for running the health campaigns, carrying out health checks and testing such as cholesterol screening.
- A drop-in surgery and toolbox talks were all part of the service provided.
- The nursing team was working on a support system with risk assessments for employees with conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy to ensure suitable provision and understanding on site.
- The take-up of follow-up visits to operatives’ own doctors on advice of the occupational nurse was very high.
- An open door policy was implemented and many local people, including the long-term unemployed, received skills and work training.
- Bilingual translators were operating on-site and several teams of operatives had a permanent translator.
- The site used the UKCG ‘Respect’ policy for delivering and implementing the anti-bullying, harassment and inclusion and diversity procedures. Mental health and stress were also included.