An overhead view of the site, showing the restricted working area.
An overhead view of the site, showing the restricted working area.

Challenging site like Jenga puzzle

The challenge of working on a small and restricted site, next to a busy main road, has driven logistical innovation at maintenance and new housing specialist, United Living.

The plot, in Black Dog Way, Gloucester, is only accessible at one restricted point and the building’s footprint covers almost 42% of an extremely narrow development area.

As a result, United Living Operations Manager, Matthew Mercer, described the transformation of the derelict and abandoned retail site, for Rooftop Housing Group, as being: “Like tackling a huge Jenga puzzle,” adding: “Getting everything onto site, stored and then installed around all the necessary access plant, required a great deal of careful thought and planning.

“Deliveries are tightly controlled – almost on a just-in-time basis - to minimise the storage area requirement and a flexible on-site storage system was also devised, including a temporary tunnel through the building, to allow distribution of materials, with work at low and high levels carefully choreographed around the storage areas and distribution routes.

“The frugal use of space ensured material time efficiency was maximised, giving subcontractors the ability to carry out their work with some confidence. It has been a very attritional way of working, with daily meetings to plan and co-ordinate deliveries, access and work, but everyone has co-operated and we are close to completion.”

The £14 million development comprises 95 apartments, over five floors, for both shared ownership and affordable rent, including wheelchair users.

Richard Baker, Midlands Regional Director at United Living, said: “We are extremely proud to deliver these new homes in the heart of Gloucester. This has been an exciting project for us and to be able to transform such a small and previously derelict area into stylish modern homes will further boost the city’s regeneration.”

David Hannon, Development Director with Rooftop Housing Group, commented: “Creating great sustainable homes is a passion of Rooftop and working with partners that believe in what we do is the icing on the cake. The Black Dog Way site had been derelict for many years and was a blot on the landscape of Gloucester City Centre.

“This iconic project not only delivers much needed affordable homes for sale and rent but supports our environment through the use of modern methods of construction and renewal energy generation.

“We are delighted to have chosen United Living and we proud of our work with Gloucester City Council and that this project has played a key part in the regeneration of the city.”

In June, United Living merged with The Fastflow Group - a provider of essential services to the utilities and property sectors - to create a £400 million plus turnover operation, with a forward order book of well over £1 billion, employing around 1,100 people.

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