UCLAN – Highway Improvement Works
This year UCLan (University of Central Lancashire) marks thirty years since it was granted University status, and with the recent completion of its new student and innovation centres, it’s been a proud moment for our team who have played a central role in the highway improvement works that showcase the continuing evolution of the prestigious University.
Appointed Civil and Transport Engineers on the £12m UCLan highway improvement works, it’s been a special few months for us seeing new and existing students arrive on campus to enjoy the improvements works, fully available for public use from earlier in the academic year.
With design works commencing in 2017, and construction work in 2019, over the last four years the pioneering plans have transformed the public realm space, establishing the new student centre firmly as the heart of the campus and realigning the surrounding streets to create a new 53,000 sq ft public square for students and staff to enjoy.
Delivered for our client Balfour Beatty, and working with Landscape architect, Planit-ie, the highway improvement works have created better connectivity through the highways network, reallocated space dedicated for pedestrians and cyclists and removed traffic signals to create a more functional movement network. One of our main objectives was to encourage connectivity with an emphasis on pedestrians, enhancing the existing landscape so it prioritised the safety and comfort of the people using it on a daily basis. Appointed as Lead Designer on delivery of the transport strategy, civils and highway design, we provided a full-time site-based monitoring role advising on compliance with the design information.
Our expertise were called upon throughout various elements of the project, with us providing counsel to both stakeholders and the Highway Authority Lancashire County Council (LCC) , producing the overall transport strategy report and S278 designs, and developing a BIM Model to showcase the public realm alongside all buildings, giving the University a holistic view of the complete campus.
During construction there were several unexpected challenges that called upon our site representative, along with Balfour Beatty engineers and LCC Highway Supervisor, to work collaboratively to overcome them without any critical delays to the project programme. One of these challenges was heavy rain, which was overwhelming the new tree pits. Additional testing and research was undertaken to identify the root cause which was then swiftly and safely addressed. Existing utilities also created an additional challenge, and our team commissioned a topographical and underground utilities survey at design stage (along with the set-up of 80 trial pits) to minimise clashes and highlight any services which may pose a threat to the safety of construction workers. During construction our site representative worked closely with the Balfour Beatty engineer using Trimble’s SiteVision to provide an augmented view of the utilities’ 3D model superimposed onto the camera image of the real-world location. This allowed on-site real-time clash analysis of the utilities which was used to amend or adapt the design where utilities presented a constraint.
As work on the site gained momentum and the project vision began to take shape, the Covid-19 pandemic as we know locked down the country throughout much of 2020 and 2021. Our role on site four days a week was temporarily forced to move online, with Autodesk’s BIM 360 Field software to still allow quality checks to happen remotely. Once restrictions were eased our on-site role continued, and progress on the improvement works had been considerable, with the usual bustling campus being largely unoccupied during the various lockdowns, decreasing pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the area.
Welcoming a staff and student community of 38,000 people, UCLan is one of the UK’s largest universities. With the improvement works now firmly establishing the Preston campus as a world-class Higher Education site, event space and focal point for the community, the project looks set to not only unlock the potential of its students but also the potential of Preston, as the city continues to focus on its ambitious redevelopment plans. All of us here at Civic Engineers are excited to see the changes such a collaborative and forward-thinking project as this will bring to the city and its future.