City of York Council commissioned WYG as Principal Contractor to carry out a ground investigation at York Railway Station. It fed into the Council’s ambitious plans in collaboration with Network Rail and LNER to transform the interchange’s facilities, enhance accessibility, and create a new public realm. Once complete, the masterplan will re-energise the station by bringing it up to modern standards and reinforcing its role in connecting York to the wider region and country.
The £23.5m improvement scheme, designed by Arup, will eventually see the removal of the Queen Street Road Bridge and associated embankments, demolition of existing structures, and the redevelopment of car parks and public spaces to improve the pedestrian experience.
Before that development work could be made possible, though, the investigation called on our team’s geo-environmental expertise to provide site-specific information on various challenges, complemented by archaeological reporting from our in-house team. Not only was this work complex and logistically challenging, but it also required the team to balance the needs of the client against a mandate to minimise the impact of the works on the general public and landowners.
Following our contribution to York Station, we also conducted an investigation at York Central - an area of land north of the station set to become one of the largest city centre regenerations in Europe. It will play a key role in development of the wider York regeneration works by improving traffic flow and public spaces. It also doubles as a significant step change advancement for the region in promoting the Northern Powerhouse initiative.
The requirements of the project specifically asked our team to investigate the following:
Thanks to the efficiency and experience of our multidisciplinary experts, the investigation was delivered on time, below budget, and with minimal environmental and social impact.
At each stage of the project, our team assisted and advised the local council whilst remaining flexible to the changing nature of the ground investigation. This had the added benefit of letting our client maximise data acquisition.
But with the station being located in such a public area, the team faced a glaring challenge that forced them to think outside the box. Traffic and pedestrian interaction in such active areas had to be controlled, requiring an immense amount of planning. To mitigate that, the team attended numerous pre-start meetings and undertook site-walk overs with landowners in advance of fieldworks commencing.
Such an approach allowed for a realistic programme to be developed from the project’s onset. More importantly, the trust in competence the team gained from landowners allowed for flexible site operations with reduced notification periods for land access.
Through this whole process, the team effectively demonstrated that less disruptive techniques could be implemented and still allow for technical data to be obtained. Minimising disruption to local communities meant close liaising between our team and the local council, in addition to working with Network Rail, Arup, and LNER when applying for road closures. Where required, all operations were marked with appropriate signage and heras fencing along with ground protection.
An especially noteworthy example of our alternative solutions to reduce disruptions and costs was at the busy pedestrian area of the site called Tearoom Square – the access to the short-stay carpark. Working with specialists from Arup, our team recommended topographical surveys within the basements that ended up negating the need for excavations.
Mark Peachey, Principal Consultant at WYG, said: “The project was a challenge for us given the nature of the environment, but we’re really glad to see how successful it was with regards to technical output. It wouldn’t have happened without the proactive and reactive teamwork between ourselves, ARUP, and the Council. We look forward to applying the lessons learned from the additional pre-planning and due diligence we did to other projects we undertake to mitigate commercial, social, and environmental impact.”
Ben Swallow, Associate Director at WYG, said: “We’re proud to have played a role in relaying the research for these works to reinvigorate one of the great central transport hubs within the UK. It’s going to create a greatly improved space for all people making use of transport there, from residents to tourists alike.”
WYG's work on this project has been shortlisted at the Ground Engineering Magazine Awards 2019 for Ground Investigation Project of the Year - Under £2m. All the winners will be announced at the Ground Engineering Awards on the 5th June 2019 held at the London Hilton on Park Lane.