North East firm lays the foundations for innovative UK housing project

The modern building techniques of a leading civil engineering firm are set to be part of one of the UK’s most innovative house building projects.   

With demand for homes outstripping supply in the UK, experts have praised the possibilities that factory-built modular housing could deliver for the UK’s housing needs. 

Home Group, one of the UK’s largest providers of high quality housing, health and social care, has set up Gateshead Innovation Village, a truly unique project to assess the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of modern methods of construction (MMC). 

Home Group is working with five MMC manufacturers to develop 35 modular houses and panelised houses as well as six traditional, bricks and mortar homes, which will be assessed by specialists for a range of issues over a year long period.  

Seymour Civil Engineering is contracted by leading regeneration specialist, ENGIE who is delivering the project on behalf of Group, to look after the roads, sewers and foundations at the site.    

The Hartlepool-based civil engineering firm has been laying the foundations at the site and is also responsible for the internal and external drainage, services and hard landscaping. 

Thomas Brown, Seymour Civil Engineering Site Manager, said: “This is the first time we have worked in this way – and it is so interesting to watch the process. The main difference is the way we lay the foundations.  

“With traditional construction, perimeter walls and load-bearing walls need deep foundations – and therefore deep excavation – to support the load of the structure.  

“However, the modular homes require shallow excavation with concrete and blockwork plinths as the weight of the property is spread across the site.” 

Due to the current housing shortage, the UK needs to build between 240,000 and 300,000 new homes annually. The industry is currently building around 190,000 houses per year due to the cost of building homes and declining number of skilled workers.   

Thomas added: “The time taken to erect a modular house is a fraction of the time it takes to construct a traditional build.   

Myself and the team have found this project fascinating and amazing to watch the homes as they are erected and complete in such a small space of time.  

“We’re all very proud to be part of this fantastic project.” 

He added: “I’m 100% certain that this is the future of housebuilding in this country.”    

Stuart Dickens, Seymour Civil Engineering Construction Director, said: “Seymour is always keen to take on board projects where the expertise and skills of our engineers will be utilised in new and innovative ways.   

“We feel that Gateshead Innovation Village does just that as well as giving us all the opportunity to be involved within the future of the house building sector.   

“It’s exciting to be involved and we look forward to seeing the first residents move into their pioneering properties.”  

Seymour Civil Engineering started on the project in June last year and the development is due for completion in May.   

The properties are manufactured in a state-of-the-art factory using the latest technologies and they will boast features such as smart controlled solar panel systems.  

Once the village is built householders will share their experiences of the housing type and technology.   

Civil engineers to complete work on £75m Highways England Silverlink project

Seymour Civil Engineering is nearing completion on its award-winning role at the North East’s first ‘super roundabout’.   

Work on the £75m Highways England Silverlink triple decker roundabout is scheduled to finish in just weeks with Hartlepool-based Seymour Civil Engineering contracted by John Sisk & Son to install £8m highway and kerb drainage.     

Seymour has been on site for 102 weeks to date and has been crowned ‘Supply Chain Partner of the Year Civils UK’ at the Sisk Supply Chain Awards for the last two years for its work on the project, with particular mention made about the quality of work and its collaborative approach.     

Ryan Browell, Contracts Manager at Seymour, said: “It’s definitely been one of the largest projects that I have been involved in throughout my career.   

“I think the main challenge has been working around traffic management. We worked collaboratively with a host of other contractors such as those looking after the piling, bridges and laying of the roads.”  

He added: “We are very pleased with the work and we know that it’s going to make a real difference on one of the UK’s primary transport corridors.”   

Seymour has installed drainage utilising the latest shaft sinking and microtunnelling techniques which has enabled continuous traffic flow on the A19.    

The four key areas of Seymour’s work involved:  

  • Main highway and land drainage  
  • Trenchless crossing undertaken by micro tunnelling techniques  
  • Sinking three shafts – the deepest being 13.5m deep  
  • Installation of combined kerb drainage  

It has also provided 24-hour on-site support.    

Health and safety on this project has been of the highest standards, working to Highways England’s ‘Raising the Bar’ standards given the nature of the location of the works and the risks involved.  

The scheme in North Tyneside, at the A19 and A1058 Coast Road junction, has been ongoing since summer 2016.  

Three layers have been created – the Coast Road on top, a junction in the middle and the A19 on the bottom.   

Once complete the project will dramatically reduce queuing time for motorists travelling along the A19 at peak times.   

Highways England has confirmed the scheme is on schedule to finish in March and the work is now entering the final stages.