Primark – Kingston upon Thames Redevelopment
RG have completed the new Primark Kingston upon Thames store, two years after work commenced on the this large and complex project.
The original phasing was for the existing store to remain trading whilst the extension was constructed, but during the early months of the reduced level dig works to the side extension we came across the first of many challenges that resulted in a 10 month delay on site.
Following this, and due to the unfortunate demise of BHS, it was decided to relocate the existing store into a temporary facility, this itself being a challenge as the BHS building was circa 40 years old and had not been maintained for 13 years, with no heating, hot water, ventilation or compliant Vertical movement or sprinkler system. With this we undertook a 4 week fitout programme calling in all favours to get the store up and running as fast as possible, whilst also making the building and services compliant to relative statutory requirements
Once the existing store was relocated to the temp store, work then began on the £26m project build comprising a two storey vertical extension and roof top plant area to the existing store footprint, a six storey side extension including an eight metre deep basement, the cutting away of the existing building to form a new four storey atrium and the removal of the front of the existing store to replace with a complete new façade.
Following the shell construction, we undertook a full fitout with new services, glazing and internal finishes in line with the Primark standards, including new vertical movement with the install of eight escalators and six lifts.
There were many challenges along the way, not least the archaeological activity that had to take place at the start of the project.
The site was a former Quaker meeting house where they were allowed to bury their own in their meeting house grounds. The Quakers identified 40 bodies to be exhumed. It actually worked out there were 116 in the ground as the majority were double or triple stacked. There was one grave in particular that we knew we would have to remove as she was buried under the foundation of the existing building, to be removed when we did our reduced level dig. Rather than just find one we actually located 16 graves in total. The graves were in varying states, a number of lead coffins, some remains with no coffins and some coffins that had been well preserved. The ages of the graves ranged from the 1860’s to the 1960’s.
The exhumations caused a number of delays including having to get a licence to exhume remains from the Ministry of Justice which had to be signed by the Secretary of State for Justice. This was at the same time as Brexit. Michael Gove was Secretary of State for Justice at the time but left after the referrendum result, causing further delays while a new Secretary was appointed.
Once the exhumations were completed work could continue on getting the store built and fitted out, and the whole team did a great job in getting it to completion, opening on Good Friday this year 2 years and 1 day after starting on site and only 4 months later than originally planned, pulling back 6 months with multi-working face processes. Well done on a great job!