I is for Industry
We have a tremendous industrial heritage in the UK. Bridges, pumping stations, mills and factories across the country stand testament to the importance of industry to our economic prosperity. The construction boom during the industrial revolution, housing for the workforce and the grand civic buildings built, show the huge wealth of industrialists, whilst marking the construction sector as a key indicator of prosperity for the country, then as it still does now.
This importance has been highlighted during the difficult times of 2020 so far, where the UK government have been keen to see construction projects continue, ensuring that we continue to thrive economically as a nation, through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Industry in the UK has changed substantially in the last century. We have moved from a reliance on heavy industry towards light industry and technology. We may still be a strong nation of shopkeepers, but most of these shops need to have an on-line presence in order to thrive. E-commerce and its logistical requirements are changing the industrial, building-scape across the country.
Today’s industrial buildings may look less imposing in substance than their Victorian counterparts – bricks and mortar have for the most part given way to steel frames and cladding – but this demonstrates the advances in structural and material engineering. These new builds are no less impressive in scale. Much of today’s industrial sector activity takes place in huge warehouses or vast factory facilities, at sites that span many acres. The Amazon Fulfilment Centre in Dunfermline for example, is a colossal one million square feet in size!
Finding a suitable site for that square footage can be challenging…
Brownfield vs Greenfield
Urban brownfield sites naturally offer opportunities, with the advantage of existing utility service provision, close proximity of potential workforce, and a pragmatic use of otherwise redundant space that the local authority should welcome. But they also have their drawbacks. Constrained and congested inner city locations, tricky access to transport links or distribution networks, and the potential for a raft of hidden (and potentially expensive!) ‘nasties’ requiring remediation before any building can actually take place.
Greenfield site development for larger industrial operations, whilst not popular for obvious reasons, does have advantages. Space and ease of access to main transport routes are two key positives but achieving planning permission for such developments is more of a challenge to overcome with the local authority.
Flexibility of Purpose
Not all industrial facilities are of an amazonian scale, but the size and flexibility of steel structured buildings is appealing. Depending on the intended purpose they can be heated/unheated, refrigerated, humidity controlled or zoned to accommodate a mix of requirements. They can accommodate complex and sensitive industrial machinery, offer ‘picking’ or distribution solutions, staff offices, welfare facilities or simply be used for storage.
One key advantage is the speed of construction, and pre-fabrication can make the process even quicker still. One criticism often raised is the utilitarian appearance. This may be, but the pay-off lies with functionality and efficiency. What these buildings lack in looks, is made up for in other ways. Industry doesn’t stand still, and, with these structures, internal reconfiguration is relatively straight-forward. This is huge advantage as buildings change hands, or the company processes change and update requiring adaptations over time.
DCP & the Industrial Sector
Daniel Connal Partnership (DCP) is extremely proud of its work in the industrial sector. Over many years in business we have been entrusted with a diverse range of instructions, demonstrating our specialist skillset as a multi-disciplinary consultancy with solid construction expertise.
2020 has been no exception:
- M&H Plastics have been a Client for over 25 years and over that period we have seen their estate extend to over 50,000m² and we’ve been delighted to play our part not only in that growth but by facilitating change through alteration projects and this year by keeping the estate safe by undertaking fire risk assessments and the design and procurement of a training academy, currently on site.
- Ten years ago we project managed the construction of a new world class manufacturing facility on a greenfield site in Halesworth for Spectra Packaging. Managing the planning process through extensive archaeology and ecological issue we then delivered 4800m² of factory, warehousing and offices. Since then a further 2400m² of space has been provided and we are now in for planning permission for a further 2000m² which is due to be constructed next year.
- Works have just been completed on a £7m hangar and engineering workshop for KLM at Norwich Airport. We provided quantity surveying and employer’s agent services on this project. The 6,527m² scheme delivered this year, all whilst working within the constraints caused by the pandemic, provides flexible spaces which will help to meet current and future engineering needs at the airport.
- The end of the year should see the completion of a major extension at Aeropak, a pharmaceutical facility in Great Yarmouth. Aeropak are a new client for DCP we have provided Quantity Surveying and Principal Designer services on this project which will provide 977m² of additional manufacturing/warehouse space plus a further 550m² for office accommodation.
At Daniel Connal Partnership we work hard with our clients across all sectors to deliver projects on time and on budget, building certainty and reducing risk, whilst maintaining safety, achieving quality and maximising investment returns for the benefit of our clients.