A Challenging and Innovative Project on Budget and on Time by TGMS

Design and project management specialist TGMS has been awarded the SAPCA Project of the Year Award 2020 for its work on the Sports Hub at Berkhamsted School. The school appointed TGMS to solve a long-standing ambition – to increase sport provision for the school’s students, while at the same time solving infrastructural issues relating to the existing traffic and road configuration.

TGMS delivered the challenging and innovative project on budget and on time, resolving the logistical issues while adding three new netball/tennis courts, two refurbished netball/tennis courts. The traffic solutions included the creation of a new car park, a drop-off/pick-up facility for parents and students and a new automatic number plate recognition-controlled school coach system to ease congestion in Kings Road.

Berkhamsted School has developed a reputation as a leading school for sport and has had particular success in lacrosse and netball. In 2016, Berkhamsted was ranked 10th among the country’s independent schools, based on performances across 20 major sports by the School Sport Magazine. The school has also developed a strong centre of excellence for girls’ sport.

To further strengthen its position, the school had identified a strategic need to increase netball and tennis court provision at its Kings Road campus. It also wanted to address a significant logistical transport challenge relating to lack of parking, difficulties accommodating coaches and severe congestion at pick-up/drop-off times – issues which were impacting negatively on the school and the local community.

TGMS used its expertise to coordinate a detailed programme of investigative work, which would in turn inform the final design solution. The work included conducting traffic surveys, traffic-flow planning and a trial with two coaches, in order to optimise the size and geometry of an existing roundabout.

A tree survey – to inform a tree planting scheme – was also undertaken, as was a detailed geotechnical site investigation of the underlying strata. There were also soakage tests, so that a plan could be drawn for a surface water drainage system that would retain all water on-site.

The overall aim of the investigative work was to underpin the design of the new sports courts – as well as all roads, paths and the car park.

TGMS analysed the results of the investigative work and developed a holistic design solution. The final plan included a number of technical innovations and practical solutions designed to deliver to the school’s original brief. These included widening an access road and amending the size and shape of a roundabout to facilitate efficient coach access.

An ANPR barrier was also proposed, to manage vehicular movement on-site, while a decision was made to convert two existing netball courts into a car park and to create a continuous-flow parent drop-off/pick-up zone.

In order to create sufficient space for the construction of new netball and tennis courts, TGMS came up with a plan to excavate into a chalk hillside and install timber crib retaining walls.

The development was designed and project-managed by TGMS and, following a competitive tender process, fellow SAPCA member S&C Slatter was appointed to deliver the project. The construction team worked efficiently alongside TGMS and the School’s Estate Development Director to build the project.

The site, however, provided some significant challenges for the construction project. These included the need to create an accessible route for the team to haul all equipment and materials up a steep hill and the excavation and careful removal of 10,000 tonnes of surplus material from a confined space during school term-time. Delivering such a major development project in an active school environment – amid a semi-urban setting – also proved challenging at times.

All of these issues, however, were resolved and the project was delivered on time and on budget.

Chris Grimsdale, Estate Development Director at Berkhamsted School, said TGMS had delivered on all of the school’s expectations.

“I’m delighted with the outcome of this project, which has created additional first-class sporting facilities on-time and to budget in an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly setting,” Grimsdale said. “TGMS has also solved a major logistical challenge for the school and the local community.”

Following the announcement that TGMS had won the SAPCA Project of the Year award, Dr. Richard Earl, principal consultant at TGMS, said: “It’s fantastic to have received a SAPCA award for this complex but rewarding project, which was delivered efficiently with our construction partners S & C Slatter.”

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