Guest Expert: How Paul Mew Steers Construction Projects to Success
Paul Mew has been working as a traffic consultant since the 70s and is now Director at Paul Mew Associates. We rely on Paul and his team to keep site logistics running smoothly so that our developments don’t hit any speed bumps on their way to becoming dream homes.
Construction projects are enormous logistical undertakings. Without a plan in place for how people, materials and spoil will make their way to and from a building site, even a modest residential development can collapse under its own complexity.
Traffic Management Consultants such as myself use a mix of regulatory knowledge, advanced software and logistical experience to draw up detailed plans that prevent construction projects from hitting red lights.
The rules of the road
Most residential sites are inevitably located in residential areas, which, in London, means narrow streets often lined with vehicles on either side. A project, not to mention the local traffic, would grind to a halt if a lorry delivering supplies found itself stuck on its way to the site.
To prevent such a situation, traffic consultants such as us produce a Construction Logistics Plan (CLP) as part of the Construction Management Statement (CMS).
CLPs are required by London boroughs before a project can receive planning approval, though they can continue to be updated as needed throughout the project’s lifetime. The CLP submitted as part of the planning documents outlines the logistic issues expected during a development, and how the developer intends to solve or mitigate them.
More than just detailing how vehicles will go to and from the site, a CLP also needs to demonstrate measures that will be taken to limit the impact of local community and infrastructure, neighbour amenity and the amount of pollution, vibration, noise and dust produced by vehicles.
Much of the CLP is modelled using various mapping software to calculate the ideal routes to avoid public transport lanes, schools and congested roads. We also use this software to determine what type of vehicles will be able to navigate these routes and how many trips will be required to deliver and remove the estimated volume of materials and spoil.
A school in the area is a particularly difficult challenge, as we face tight restrictions on when vehicles are permitted to pass nearby, limiting transport hours to 9:30 to 15:00. We try to avoid schools as much as possible, but as many family homes are built in close proximity to schools, working within their restrictions is often unavoidable.
We also use TfL data to advise on public transport routes for contractors to take to the site to avoid further congestion being caused by each contractor showing up with their own car.
This map is used to determine whether the vehicles required for the development (in this case a skip, truck and concrete mixer) will be able to access the site and how close they will be able to park to it.
A tight squeeze
Both during the planning stage and throughout the duration of the project, we need to work closely with the architects and contractors to have an accurate supply of data and to be able to provide them with plans that will have a significant impact on how a development is carried out.
For example, it may be impossible for a typical 8 metre spoil removal lorry to access the site, in which case the contractors will either have to use smaller vehicles more frequently, or deliver the rubble and mud by wheelbarrow to a location where the lorry can park.
It’s also not unusual for concrete mixers to be too large to access a residential area, requiring concrete to be mixed on site instead, which slows down the amount of concrete that can be produced in one day and – by extension – pushes out the delivery time of the project.
In one recent project that we produced a CLP for, the house sat at the end of a narrow, quiet road with an almost 90 degree bend. After testing numerous different logistics options, we determined the only feasible solution was to use the smallest vehicle possible: a 3.5 ton Nissan Cabstar, the only truck narrow enough to squeeze its way to this difficult site.
There are cost implications of having to use such a small vehicle, as more trips are more expensive, but the council wouldn’t have allowed it any other way. Had we not been involved, the contractor may have proceeded with a larger, more convenient vehicle, only for the council to take enforcement action against them.
At Denbigh Gardens, we couldn’t fit a full size crane on site, but we were able to bring in this lorry-mounted crane to move the massive steel beams.
Get in touch with Paul Mew Associates to learn more