Health & Safety Update

One of our recent Health & Safety initiatives has been the use of U-bars in the top of pile reinforcement cages.

Previously on sites we had issues with rebar caps being knocked off the ends of bars and creating a hazard for those working nearby. The U-bars alleviate this and are simply bent down into our Housedeck or Comdeck slab to provide the required connection.

An elegant, simple solution to improve safety of those on site.

Brownfield Vs Greenfield – Which is Better?

During the site selection process, greenfield versus brownfield is a major decision to make. Should you build on a greenfield site that’s typically cleaner but further from nearby towns? Or, should you use a brownfield site within the city limits and risk the costly environmental issues that can arise?

Previously, deciding between the two was much easier. However, considering the UK now has some of the world’s most regulated planning policies, obtaining permission to build on either site has become a lengthy, challenging process; with both having clear positives and negatives.

With this mind, we have put together a guide on the differences between brownfield and greenfield to make the decision-making process easier.


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Brownfield sites are areas, typically in towns and cities that have been previously been built on, however the land is now considered derelict or disused.

What Are the Advantages?

Planning Permission is Easier to Obtain:

Considering it’s estimated the UK needs to build at least 250,000 new homes a year to keep up with ever-growing demand, the government are actively encouraging development on brownfield sites; mostly because of their commitment to wildlife protection – something that greenfield sites pose a threat to. Because of this, brownfield sites have become a core attribute for the UK’s Sustainable Development Strategy and currently, the government are aiming to approve the planning permission for 90% of the UK’s brownfield sites by 2020

Local councils are also keen to transform older, derelict buildings into useable properties; meaning it is much easier to gain permission to develop on brownfield sites.

Economic Transformation:

Aside from environmental benefits, redeveloping on brownfield sites also carries many economic perks. For example, dilapidated industrial sites can be transformed into shopping centres, thriving offices, public parks, family homes and more. They can breathe new life into neighbourhoods, and encourage the transformation of towns and cities by attracting a new lease of life. This can help facilitate job growth and local tax.

What Are the Disadvantages?

Higher Risk of Costs:

Due to years of inactivity and neglect, brownfield sites can become costly and complicated. Remember – a brownfield site includes more than just land, such as existing buildings, crops and even mineral rights. Certain processes involved in remediation such as site clearance can drastically increase the cost and development window for brownfield sites. However, there are ways to save money, as many necessities such as water, sewer lines, electricity and roads already exist.

Longer Construction Timelines:

If unexpected complications arise from the pre-built area, such as the discovery of pollutants occur, it can result in a longer decontamination process. Furthermore, if a brownfield site is already contaminated upon purchase, it will fall onto you – the developer – to ensure a safe site and rectify the issues. You could also risk being liable even if you weren’t aware of the contamination before purchasing the site, as it’s likely the contamination occurred several decades ago; making it difficult to locate those responsible, so it’s important to be fully aware before committing to a site.


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Greenfield sites are undeveloped, agricultural areas of land that are being considered for urban development.

What Are the Advantages?

Flexible, Cheaper Development:

As a greenfield site hasn’t been developed upon before, it can significantly reduce the amount of site clearance required. For example, there are no buildings to demolish and no industrial roads or debris to remove. In essence, they provide a completely blank canvas, as the layout is not hampered by previous development and can be made both efficient and pleasant. For example, a developer looking to build a large structure would have the freedom to implement piling to support the foundations.

Avoid Disrupting Residents:

Considering greenfield sites aren’t situated too near urban areas, the development build phase can avoid interfering with local residents. This can prevent noise and air pollution disrupting the existing landscape; creating a more pleasant environment as long as the development isn’t taken too far.

What Are the Disadvantages?

Environmental Pressure:

In recent years, the development on greenfield sites has become a lot more restricted to prevent further, unnecessary loss to our countryside and wildlife. According to new government data, there has been a 44% increase on the amount of brownfield sites used, indicating the government is striving to make better use of previously developed land.

Initiatives such as Campaign Protect Royal England (CPRE) are also determined to encourage the reduction in greenfield site development.

Rebecca Pullinger, Planning Campaigner CPRE believes more needs to be done: “Whilst the increase in the proportion of development taking place on brownfield land is promising, the lack of reduction in greenfield development is alarming news for those who love the countryside.

She continued: Without a clear, national policy that empowers councils to refuse applications for housing on greenfield land where suitable brownfield options exist, our cherished countryside will continue to be ripped up at an alarming rate”.

Increased Pollution:

Concerns are also being raised around traffic congestion and pollution as locals commute from urban areas to the countryside. Too much of an increase in greenfield sites could eventually result in an “urban sprawl” within rural areas and leave larger towns and cities with insufficient green space.

So, which is better?

Overall, there is no clear-cut answer. Understandably, greenfield sites need to be protected to avoid devastating affects on our wildlife and countryside. Furthermore, the government and council’s increased restrictions on purchasing greenfield sites has limited the options further. However, the expensive costs and longer construction times associated with brownfield sites can pose huge threats to developers; especially those who are striving to build housing and offices, which could benefit the economy long-term.

Our New Email Newsletter

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Abbey Pynford are an Official Partner of ICE Bicentenary Commemorative Album

Abbey Pynford are pleased to announce that we are an official partner of the ICE Bicentenary commemorative album, Shaping the World.

The Institution of Civil Engineers launches a new publication to commemorate 200 years of engineering excellence

To mark its Bicentenary, the Institution of Civil Engineers has created the commemorative album Shaping the World. This beautifully designed book showcases the 200 structures and engineering projects that have had the greatest impact on our lives, and celebrates the individuals and organisations that deliver the vital infrastructure we all rely on. Produced in partnership with publisher St James’s House, this stunning, inspiring hardback will be launched at the historical library of the ICE’s headquarters just off Parliament Square in the City of Westminster, London.

A prestigious coffee–table book of the highest quality in research, writing and design, Shaping the World explores not only key stories of inspired engineering, but also sheds a light on the major industries and commercial sectors that surround the discipline.

As well as boasting striking images that convey the magnitude and beauty of the featured engineering projects, the publication serves as a carefully curated guide to architects, consultants, infrastructure companies, environmental firms, industry-related educational institutions and other organisations whose pre-eminent status in their respective fields warrants their inclusion in this book. Many of these exclusive names and brands will be exhibiting at the launch event on 21 September.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Richard Freed, the CEO and owner of St James’s House, said: “The commemorative ICE album is yet another prestigious book in our long list of publications to mark landmark events such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We are extremely proud of this book and honoured to be working alongside such exceptional companies and organisations on this project.”

Some 500 dignitaries from around the world as well as television and print media representatives are expected to attend the presentation of Shaping the World.

Abbey Pynford Are Shortlisted for Two Structural Awards by The Institution of Structural Engineers

Abbey Pynford are pleased to announce that one of our projects has been shortlisted for two Structural Awards by The Institution of Structural Engineers.

Our works at The Queens Theatre in London’s west end have been shortlisted in two award categories (Structural Transformation and Outstanding Value).

The Structural Awards are the world’s foremost celebration of structural engineers as innovative, creative design professionals and the guardians of public safety.

For over 50 years, the Structural Awards have showcased the world’s most cutting edge engineering achievements. Past winners include iconic structures such as the Sydney Opera House, the Pompidou Centre and the Severn Bridge.

Works on the Theatre included the design and construction of complex structural alterations to a Grade II listed West End theatre. Involving the removal of load-bearing vault walls and construction of new steelwork to support vault arches beneath the adjacent highway, and the creation of new stage level space by partially removing a primary loadbearing curved masonry wall from basement to second floor level. Operations above and below stage level comprised underpinning, encased and composite structural steelwork, Pynford stooling, reinforced concrete cantilever ribbed slab and composite diaphragm shear walls. This was all achieved without interruption to rehearsals and daily performances.

Mike Johnson, Director of Engineering at Abbey Pynford, said: “This is great recognition of our skills, knowledge, engineering excellence and acknowledges Abbey Pynford’s status in the international world of Structural Engineering. We extend our thanks to all stakeholders of the Queens Theatre project and many congratulations to all those involved in this project

The Structural Awards 2018 ceremony will take place on Friday 16 November at The Brewery, London.

Frequently Asked Questions: Housedeck

(Standard pile supported foundation system Vs Pile supported Housedeck)

What is Housedeck?

Housedeck is a proprietary foundation system and replaces the need for traditional strip foundations or pile & beam along with the associated brickwork and sub-flooring; improving quality, reducing costs and construction times on your site.

How does Housedeck work?

Essentially Housedeck is a raft foundation, but with our in-house Structural and Geotechnical knowledge, coupled with the latest technology and innovative solutions, we value engineer every job to provide the most effective solution to your foundation requirements.

What are the benefits of Housedeck?

Housedeck has many benefits:

  • Cheaper; when considered as a package solution, Housedeck is competitive against medium to deep strips and all other piled or raft foundations.
  • Quicker; faster construction time and less prone to weather delay
  • Higher quality; Pre-fabricated edge shuttering, accurate setting out and slab finishes
  • Improved programme certainty; A simpler, one stop solution removing interface between foundation contractor and sub-floor installer
  • Improved Safety; No excavations or trenches
  • Reduced preparatory works; often no piling mat required
  • Reduced spoil off site; shallower drainage, no beams or strips and shallower working platform
  • Reduced carbon footprint; Finite element analysis designed to provide the most efficient pile and slab design, reducing materials and thus carbon footprint
  • Cleaner; works undertaken on a clear concrete working surface
  • Pre-approved; Meets all warranty provider requirements (NHBC, LABC, PREMIER)
  • A genuine clear void (where required); no need to design for a crushing load and ideal for flood risk areas where a pathway for water flow may be required
  • Robust; a 100% track record of structural integrity

For more information on our Housedeck system, have a look at our Housedeck service page or give us a call on 01442 212 112 or email us.

Abbey Pynford Finalists for GE Awards 2018

On 6th June 2018, Abbey Pynford were the proud finalists at the Ground Engineering Awards 2018 for the prestigious ‘Geotechnical Value of up to £1M’ award.

Situated at the London Hilton, Park Lane, the event acknowledged some of biggest industry leaders and innovators. This year was of particular importance, as it was the 10th anniversary for the ceremony.

Claire Smith, editor of Ground Engineering said:

“The GE Awards is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and every year the industry has demonstrated that however tight the budget and competitive the market, it can still deliver award-winning innovation, technical expertise and value engineering – and this year is no exception”.

The ‘Geotechnical Value of up to £1M’ award is designed to celebrate a ground engineering contract that’s stood above the rest for its innovation, sustainability, health and safety and of course quality.

Each entrant had to demonstrate the measures that were taken for their project to ensure it exceeded the intended standard.

Congratulations to all the winners!

30th Birthday Celebrations

Last month we were lucky to have great weather to celebrate 30 years since Abbey Pynford was formed with a Family Fun Day.

A fantastic time was had by all with bouncy castles, tug of war, BBQ and face painting!

John Patch, our Sales & Marketing director said “Much has been achieved in the first 30 years and there is much more to achieve in the next 30. Talent and commitment abound within the Company; there is no doubt that the business will grow and will extend its position as a leader in Engineered Foundations.”

Getting Out of the Ground on Brownfield Sites

While it’s easier to build on greenfield sites, the shrinking natural environment has pushed more conscientious developers into the use of brownfield sites. Additional complications can cause the cost and difficulty to ratchet up as the contaminated land requires specialist skills to reclaim. But with the proper techniques, brownfield land can be converted into a viable commercial or residential property with relative ease.

The prime issue with brownfield land is that it will inevitably be contaminated in some way. Either because building work previously existed and is now derelict, the land is in a heavily built up area or the site’s prior use was one that lead to damage to the ground and the project is now based in restoration.

Firstly, it has to be established whether or not the contamination of the land constitutes a danger. Some examples of sites that have potentially hazardous contamination include former factories, mines, steelworks and landfills. The onus for whether a land is contaminated lies with the local authority. If it is found that the land is contaminated then developers will have to liaise with the Environment Agency, who will advise whether or not an environmental permit is needed. They are also likely to offer advice on how to best overcome any specific difficulties.

Once the site is cleared for development, it’s important that the building work is tailored for the unique challenges of the land. A good example is the foundation, the most important initial step in construction. Being previously built upon, the ground conditions of a Brownfield site may be challenging – particularly if the site was a former landfill or quarry. This can make excavation impossible.

In these cases, it’s worth considering different foundation options, such as raft foundations.

There are two types of raft foundations, Housedeck and Comdeck, the main difference being their focus on residential (Housedeck) or commercial (Comdeck) use. Raft foundations are suitable for brownfield sites of all types. They do not require trenches, are usually quicker to complete, and are more robust than a traditional foundation. They also have the added benefit of generally having a reduced carbon footprint.

Once a solid foundation has been established the rest of the build should be straight forward, provided the brownfield site in question has no further restrictions. Developers should remember to check whether the site’s location will have any restrictions on appearance and whether or not it will inhibit construction. For example, a lot of brownfield sites are in urban centres. While the location is good for both commercial and residential properties, it may inhibit your ability to use certain tools.

There are a few hurdles for brownfield developments, but the lowered environmental impact and the sheer utility of the location can make the construction very worthwhile.