RG Finalists in ‘The Big Biodiversity Challenge’

RG Group have been nominated ‘Community Engagement Award’ finalists for Project Redhill. The competition, organised by CIRIA, promotes knowledge sharing and best practice across the construction industry.

Project overview

The building project comprises the phased replacement of an existing Sainsbury’s Supermarket at Redhill in Surrey. Works include demolition of existing store and building and construction of a new build store with 2 layers of car parking above. The store is completed by a shell only construction of a gym and also a turnkey development of a 68 bedroom hotel on a podium slab above the roof car park. There are also S278 works, landlord works, basement car park refurbishment and public realm works associated with the development.

The programme is 103 weeks and completes in September 2017. The development is within the town centre and is part of regeneration of the town. There have been 1,800 people involved in the project from all backgrounds. The size of the development is 17,297sqm and the project cost is £40.7 million.

Biodiversity conditions on site, prior to the enhancement

It is a brownfield site with no biodiversity in the immediate area, however, in one of the buildings demolished to make way for the project prior to RG involvement we discovered used to be a site for nesting Swifts.

Reasons that led to this project

We were inspired by the Big Biodiversity Challenge and wanted a project where we could pursue community engagement as our one thing for nature. The project is in a built up urban area with not a lot of biodiversity around and so we wanted to bring both the site team and local community closer to biodiversity and the impact it has on their lives.

Biodiversity measures taken

We engaged with RSPB to provide a biodiversity survey and recommendations, and this resulted in swift bricks incorporated in the new building design and involved staff as Swift ambassadors. A competition was run on site for spotting the first Swift to nest.

Local schools were contacted and at one we supplied a bee hive. We set up a 2 year plan to support the school in hive maintenance. The pupils loved their bee keeper outfits/equipment, and the project has subsequently resulted in numerous projects relating to the hives from art down to science.

Another school was wanting to help their pupils appreciate nature and the food chain. We took a team of volunteers from the site along with waste materials and built an allotment for the school. The RSPB then attended the school and gave a talk on what to plant to encourage wildlife, and also a Home for Nature trail quiz. The planting was then done with the children. A smaller version was also created on site for the project workers to enjoy whilst the site was running. This provided the workers with fresh herbs and vegetables which were used in the canteen.

We linked up with a further school of older pupils and, along with Carbon Footprint and a volunteer group, planted native UK trees within their grounds to enhance the biodiversity and the school’s cross country running route, helping to offset the project’s Carbon Footprint. Informative talks on carbon and native planting were carried out at the school.

Multiple species and habitats have been created not just on site but across the greater Redhill area which will continue to have an impact long into the future.

Summary:-
Swift nesting – long term
School Allotments – long term
School Bee Hive – long term
School Tree Planting – long term
Site veg/herb patch – short term
Site planters wildlife friendly flowers – short term
Site bee bricks insect habitat – short term
RSPB Home for Nature talks

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