Main Contractor: Ashe Developments Ltd Architect: GSA Architects
Building Control: Hertfordshire Building Control (HBC)
Park Plaza will deliver 202 new homes, and 2000sqm of contemporary retail space in Stevenage town centre. It will deliver much needed mixed-use regeneration and is set to kick-start wider urban renewal in the area. The proposals were developed in close consultation with Stevenage Borough Council planners. They sought to bring the site forward in line with the town centre wide masterplan vision for Stevenage. The buildings that existed at the time of application were 3 storeys tall, comprising retail use on ground floors and commercial space above. See the images above for how the area used to look before the new development started. With a high vacancy rate due to the distance from the primary retail zone along Queensway, the run-down appearance of the existing buildings was reflective of the difficult trading climate.
Park Plaza is within a sustainable location for residential development within the town centre close to a number of services and facilities. The improved retail development will help to support the town centre’s viability and vitality, enhancing the existing retail offer and attracting an increased number of shoppers to this area of the town centre. It is hoped that development will create a ‘step change’ in quality of design and market offer, with the potential to become a catalyst for the regeneration of the wider area.
202 units altogether were proposed, comprising a mixture of 1 bed, 2 bed and Studio units and approximately 2,000 sqm of retail floor space.
Site investigations revealed that each building benefits from piled foundations (circa 20m deep) permitting additional floors to be added without major structural changes/enhancements. The façades featured repetitive patterns of crittall steel windows, brickwork and render which were generally in very poor condition. Existing canopies including later additions were also generally in very poor condition. The buildings were visually dilapidated and lacked thermal performance to meet modern standards.
All new structural elements are lightweight steel framed with composite floors and roofs. A transfer structure at fourth floor level to permit upper level setbacks is integrated within a typical floor zone. This ensures that floor to floor dimensions are maintained.
An Energy Statement was prepared by Synergy, with key aspects of the design strategy featuring:
• Highly efficient building fabric
• Low air tightness
• Low energy ventilation systems
• Low energy lighting
The LABC (Local Authority Building Control) supported Ashe Construction along with their sub-contractors and the Architect GSA throughout the construction phase. In order to achieve the finished build and to meet client specifications, we provided excellent and relevant expertise relating to both building control and design aspects of work, whilst carrying out our site inspections.
In order to achieve the best compliance of the mixed-use and residential building, our Building Control Surveyor Richard Murrell considered all aspects of the Building Regulations requirements which were applicable to ‘change of use’ and the new build section of the works, during the plans checking process.
During the project, Ashe & GSA Architects and ourselves had worked closely with the Local Authority departments including, Planning, Highways and Fire & Rescue services. All sectors worked closely together to ensure the project was compliant and kept to the relevant programme. Hertfordshire Building Control was involved from the beginning providing informed and practical advice. We attended site meetings with the design team and site managers. These meetings helped to deliver the project without any late surprises.