Central Piling provides piling solution to major housing regeneration project

The first stages of a major flood defence and residential regeneration project is underway in West Sussex, with the installation of piles for a new river wall.

Central Piling was appointed by civil and marine engineering contractor JT Mackley & Co Ltd. to install 274 concrete piles as part of the enabling works for Southern Housing Group’s Free Wharf development in Shoreham-by-Sea. Southern Housing intends to build 540 new homes on a former aggregate-processing site on the western arm of Shoreham Harbour, but building work cannot start until a new river wall has been built to replace the existing sheet piled wall.

National developer Wates Residential, who are undertaking the £5.5m enabling contract, for Southern Housing, appointed Mackley to carry out the river wall element of the works. This Includes the construction of a new reinforced concrete structure that will eventually form both the new river wall and a podium slab for a public realm area, and will also tie into an underground car park beneath the apartments.

The concrete structure is founded on a line of bearing piles designed and installed by Central Piling.

Central Piling arrived on site in June 2019, and completed the work in 25 days using a Soilmec SF50 continuous flight auger drilling rig. The piles are 350mm and 450mm in diameter, and vary in depth from 11.6m to 19.5m. They have been designed to cope with vertical loads ranging from 300kN to 900kN, and lateral loads of up to 100kN.

The piles were installed through made ground into the underlying chalk, with Central Piling making use of an existing concrete slab to support the drilling rig – something that had been specified by Wates at the tender stage.

Wates Residential undertook a site investigation and assessment to ensure the existing slab would suitable as a piling platform. The contractor then cored through the slab in all the pile locations to enable the piles to be installed, and also probed down ahead of the piling to make sure there were no obstructions.

The enabling works – including the river wall – are due to finish in late 2019. Construction of the new homes will require a further 2,000+ piles to be installed for the building foundations.

Central Piling provide solutions for tallest residential building in West London

Piling solutions from Central Piling help to save time on excavation works on a new prestigious residential development in West London.

Central Piling is providing piling solutions on a massive basement car park and foundations for four residential towers at a prestigious new development which will include One West Point, which will be the tallest residential building in West London.

The Portal West development is being built by O’Shea Construction. A mixed-use development in North Acton it consists of four blocks rising between nine and 42 storeys. The towers will be set around communal courtyard gardens and sit on top of a 6m deep communal basement. When complete, the new development for City and Docklands Property Group will provide 578 new homes as well as new pedestrian routes, public open space, commercial premises and new amenities for the local community.

Central Piling is installing the contiguous piled wall that will facilitate the excavation of the basement, and also the large-diameter bored piles for the deep-piled raft that will support the high-rise buildings.

The company was brought in as the piling specialist sub-contractor by O’Shea Construction. This enabled Central Piling to be involved in the project from an early stage, providing advice and support in choosing the piling solutions.

Central Piling began work on the £1.25 million geotechnical contract in November, with construction of the embedded basement retaining wall, which is formed of 600mm diameter continuous flight auger (CFA) piles. The installation of the rotary-bored bearing piles began soon after, with the entire contract scheduled to be complete by the end of February (2019).

The tallest of the four towers, One West Point, is a 42-level tower situated in the prime position of the centre of the North Acton/Old Oak Regeneration area. When complete, the building will be the tallest residential landmark in West London, with the highest private sky garden and terrace bar in the whole of the capital.

Steve Hadley, managing director of Central Piling, said: “High-rise buildings such as this require large-scale foundation systems capable of transferring the loads to suitable ground. The 1050mm diameter bored piles, with depths of 35m, are a first for us and our Soilmec SR-45 and SF-75 rigs are working to their maximum capacity.

“Given the magnitude of the compression loads, we undertook a preliminary pile load test on a 750mm diameter pile loaded to over 10MN which produced satisfactory results. This validated both the design assumptions and the installation technique proposed for the bearing piles.”

Central Piling, who offer a full range of geotechnical services as well as pile design and construction, also undertook an additional 44m deep borehole to complement the site investigation works and to obtain more information about the ground conditions.

Despite the 6m deep excavation which is surrounded by important buildings, including the Consulate of Algeria, the wall design allowed for a cantilever solution for the construction stages, with a minimum amount of locally-installed temporary props and a significant programme saving on the excavation works.

The optimum solution of a temporary cantilever retaining wall formed of 600mm at 750mm centres and large diameter 1050mm and 750mm rotary-bored piles for the piled rafts was the result of a significant amount of pre-construction and design work.

A day in the life of … Lee Durrant

Lee Durrant, 39, joined Central Piling as a banksman 12 years ago. He’s also been a rig driver. Here he describes a typical (or not so typical) day as an operations supervisor, his job for the past two years.

I have worked my way up to my current job role with the help and support of the company and my favourite aspect of it is that no two days are the same.

As an operations supervisor I can be responsible for overseeing anywhere from two to eight sites at a time, and this involves setting up the jobs from a pre-start meeting all the way through to the completion of the piling works. I am constantly in touch with the clients and the piling crew to try and ensure a smooth running of our works.

Monday morning is my most regular routine as I generally start in the office which means I don’t need to get up until 6am. This allows me to have breakfast with my son Bradley who has a strict routine of up and breakfast done by 6.30am because he hates being late for school!

It takes me about an hour to drive the 30 miles to the office from our family home in Harwich so before I leave at 7am I always wake up my wife Annmarie and my daughter Teaghan as they prefer to have a little more sleep than Bradley.

Once I arrive at the office and warm up the computer my first task is normally catching up on all the piling logs which have been sent to me from the rig drivers running the live sites that I am currently supervising.

Along with making sure my sites are up and running this takes about an hour and takes me up to our weekly toolbox talk which is delivered by the Health and Safety manager Colin Newman. The subjects vary week by week but this weeks was on drugs and alcohol, being as we are in the run-up to the festive season. Everyone who is in the office and yard must attend the toolbox talk and sign in to show attendance.

After the toolbox talk we try to hold a weekly contracts meeting which I actually managed to attend this week. This is a general sit down between departments to discuss the upcoming week and jobs and to share any relevant information that may need to be shared.

This week’s meeting was fairly straightforward and gave me enough time to join Roger Cox (contracts director), Sam Nicole (contracts manager) and Colin at the local café for breakfast before I need to leave for a client meeting. I like Mondays - it means no sandwich on the go for lunch!

After breakfast I hit the road, allowing enough time to make my site meeting with one of our more regular customers to discuss the Health and Safety and logistics plans of an upcoming contract in Hackney. The meeting lasts about an hour and I got all the relevant information I needed to put together a site visit sheet and logistics plan for the transport and buying department so they can start planning deliveries for the job.

We already have a live site which I am supervising in Hackney so I decided to pop over and surprise them with a cheeky little five-point safety audit. Everyone loves a safety audit! We try and do these once a month on each of our sites so we can ensure our sites are running efficiently and safely.

We are coming to the end of this contract so space is disappearing quickly but the crew are working well. I spent roughly two hours on site because I like to watch how the boys are working as opposed to filling out a form and leaving. This took me nicely up to about 4.30pm so I left site and started making my way home.

Luckily for me traffic was kind to me and I made it home with enough time to grab a snack, hug my kids, kiss the wife and run out the door to go to rugby training at my local club where I also coach an under 13s side. This is definitely my favourite pastime and makes my Sundays a pleasure to wake up to.

So there you have it, a not-so-typical day in my life at Central Piling.

And FORS accreditation goes to Central Piling

Ground engineering contractor now aiming for gold.

Specialist ground engineering contractor Central Piling is celebrating winning bronze FORS (Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme) accreditation.

The certification at SOCA (Single Operator Centre Accreditation) level covers the company’s Halstead head office and transport depot which is home to a transport fleet of 25 vans and four HGVs.

FORS is a voluntary accreditation scheme for fleet operators which aims to raise the level of quality within fleet operations and to demonstrate which operators are achieving exemplary levels of best practice in safety, efficiency and environmental protection.

Becoming a FORS member demonstrates to Central Piling’s customers and supply chain partners that the company is managing its WRRR (Work Related Road Risk) and is committed to exceeding the industry standard.

To meet bronze accreditation, Central Piling transport manager Simon Johnson carried out risk assessments with the help of the company’s H&S manager Colin Newman, created a van drivers’ check list, and set up a commercial drivers’ policy covering all the FORS standards. This has been uploaded to the company’s website for all staff to read.

He said: “With the systems we have in place now we can monitor incidents, fuel usage and costs, plus every member is aware of their responsibilities whilst driving a Central Piling vehicle which hopefully will also make them more aware when driving their own vehicles.

“To be fair at Central Piling we have a good incident record and obviously we want to keep it that way but over the past few months I have noticed a different attitude in drivers who are now thinking about their journeys and the cost implications to the company and they are also more respectful of other road users.”

He added: “FORS is becoming more and more recognised by contractors who want people like us to do their work safely, efficiently and cost effectively. Here at Central Piling both directors want us to be the best and we aim to achieve gold standard as soon as we can.”

Simon is already aiming to achieve silver accreditation by October – FORS-approved gold-standard cameras are being installed in the company’s HGVs to help drivers spot cyclists, and urban driving training courses (where HGV and van drivers take to bicycles to get a first-hand experience of the cyclist’s perspective) are being held in September.

FORS accreditation coincides with Central Piling’s acquisition of a brand-new Soilmec SF-65 rig which brings the company’s plant fleet to some 15 strong including dando-mini, mini and large rigs.

Pile Testing Services

Alongside the installation of piles we offer a range of pile testing services including pile integrity, static load, concrete cube and concrete slump tests.

Integrity tests offer a low-cost quality control method to detect defects along the pile shaft and has become an industry standard test carried out on almost all piling projects.

Static load tests can be carried out prior to or during the construction of bearing piles. As well as providing quality assurance they can also facilitate design savings through the utilisation of reduced factors of safety.

Concrete is always sourced from reputable suppliers conforming to BS EN 8500 and as part of this regular compliance testing in the form of cube tests are carried out. This is carried out routinely on projects but should further cube tests be required this can be arranged through Central Piling. Slump tests are also carried out by Central Piling daily for all projects as a quality control.

Central Piling launches ground engineering CPD

Presentation talks construction teams through the options available.

Specialist sub-contractor Central Piling has launched a CPD advising main contractors on their options for ground engineering systems.

The presentation of images and videos is completely bespoke to a recipient business’ requirements but typically lasts an hour and details the variety of ground engineering techniques available.

The CPD talks contractors through the function and benefits of earth retaining and load bearing solutions and retaining systems.

Earth retaining systems include non-embedded retaining walls such as gravity, gabion and crib lock walls, and embedded retaining walls such as soldier pile, sheet pile, contiguous, secant and diaphragm walls.

Retaining systems include props and ground anchors while load bearing solutions include CFA and rotary piles, displacement auger piles, vibro stone columns, and driven steel tube and precast piles.

The CPD presentation advises on the composition of systems, where and how they can be used including to what depths and into what types of ground, whether the requirement is temporary or permanent, and whether it needs to be watertight.

It also advises on vibration levels, systems’ ease and speed of installation and cost-effectiveness, and even gives examples of where ground engineering systems have failed.

Central Piling New Site Investigation Division

Central Piling’s New Service Aims to Save Clients’ Money.

Specialist ground engineering contractor Central Piling is set to save clients’ money with the launch of a new site investigation division.

The new site investigation service comes as part of the company’s 40th anniversary* celebrations which are being marked by an ambitious development programme that has already seen the establishment of its first regional office.

Central Piling’s rationale for the new site investigation service is that it is an integral part of the development process, as a well-designed investigation can save project costs and make designers aware of potential geotechnical and environmental issues.

Specifically, it will help clients commission more focused site investigations with construction solutions in mind. By having the option of the same contractor carrying out the site investigation and the foundation works there will be potential for reducing the construction programme and also “de-risking” the project.

The company’s 40-year expertise in pile design and construction makes Central Piling ideally suited to provide clients with robust ground investigation and consultancy services including   finite analysis modelling, slope stability, retaining walls and foundations.

And where required it partners with trusted sub-contractors, laboratories and consultants to provide clients with geo-environmental analysis and advice as part of a wider exploration. The firm’s utilities and UXO desk studies provide information regarding potential hazards prior to any intrusive ground investigation and construction work taking place.

Central Piling’s new site investigation division covers services such as ground investigation and boreholes. The former uses Dando cable percussion rigs for a cost-effective drilling technique that provides in-situ tests, along with the ability to install groundwater and ground gas monitoring wells.

The launch of the new division is also in response to the increased demand for basements as a means of adding extra space to a variety of properties but particularly private domestic properties.

A Basement Impact Assessment (BIA), using state-of-the-art 3D numerical analysis software for finite element analysis, will provide a soil/structure interaction analysis prior to construction. Central Piling has a long history of using this methodology to win agreements with water and rail authorities where structures are to be constructed adjacent to their assets.

In addition to this, Central Piling offers advice on temporary works design - construction methodology for basement construction sequencing and detailed design for propping schemes – and permanent works design - advice on foundation solutions for new developments.

The new service from Central Piling also includes noise and vibration monitoring, extensometers, inclinometers and deformation monitoring methods which clients can use as part of an observational technique design approach to basement construction, potentially reducing propping requirements and construction programme durations.

Other services are pile testing elements including tests for pile integrity tests, static loads, and concrete cubes and slumps.

Expanding our Design & Estimating Team

Two new engineers join the specialist ground engineering firm.

Central Piling has expanded its in-house design and estimating team with the appointment of two engineers - Sade Agard and David Alberici.

This will be the first engineering role for Sade since graduating from university with a degree in applied geology who, joins Central Piling as an estimating engineer. David, who is from Venezuela and has a degree in civil engineering and philosophy, previously worked as a design engineer and lecturer before moving to the UK. He joins as a design and estimating engineer.

Their appointments are part of Central Piling’s ambitious growth plans, specifically the on-going investment in staff and services to service the company’s growing customer base across the UK.

Steve Hadley, managing director of Central Piling, said:

We are very pleased to have these two talented young people joining our team. I am confident their appointments will further strengthen the high levels of service we provide to our clients.


South-east based ground engineering contractor launches its first regional office.

Specialist ground engineering contractor Central Piling has opened a northern regional office as a first step to ambitious expansion plans.

The new office is based on a technology park in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, to complement Central Piling’s head office base in Halstead, Essex, which has been its headquarters for 29 of its 40 years in business.

Central Piling has a range of specialist Soilmec CFA (Continuous Flight Auger) rotary and mini piling rigs particularly suitable for boring in rock and dense ground. They have already been used on a tranche of northern office projects that have recently been completed, valued at well over £300,000.

These include installing 289 300mm and 400mm diameter piles to 14m for a new mental health hospital in Southport. The challenge here was to keep piling and work with the client while mass and reinforced concrete basement obstructions, which had not been removed by the demolition contractor, were eradicated.

At a school near Northwich, Cheshire, Central Piling are installing 188 300mm diameter piles to 9.5m for a new sports hall. Timing deliveries and collections around the school run periods for the ready-mixed concrete has been the key to progress there.

Other notable northern office projects include Merseyside, within the basement of the MetQuarter shopping centre, Liverpool, while it remained open to the public. Night access and protection was required to gain access through the main shopping concourse and into the basement. Central Piling had to plan to work within the confines of the limited 3.8m headroom and to minimise both carbon monoxide emission build-up and noise into the shopping centre.

Eight 450mm diameter fully-reinforced piles were concreted to a depth of 8m using the hydraulic-powered SM4 piling rig with a 3.5m high mast. The rig has a separate power pack which was located remotely outside the building basement some 50m from the piling rig, with the hydraulic hoses passed down through the building lightwell into the basement.

Central Piling’s new northern office also project-managed the installation of 12 450mm diameter piles to 10m depth for a pair of media advertising hoardings on either side of the Mancunian Way flyover off the Medlock street roundabout in Manchester (pictured). Piles were installed within the limited headroom beneath the flyover by a powerful SM12 rig fitted with a short mast was used to found the piles within dense sandstone.

Central Piling’s managing director Steve Hadley added: “We opened our first regional office to improve the lines of communication with the client and supervise on site.”

Central Piling is also looking to open a base in the south-west as part of its expansion plan.


Central Piling shortlisted in Ground Engineering Awards

Central Piling has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Best Ground Engineering Scheme £1m - £3m category of the 2018 Ground Engineering Awards.

The company was shortlisted for its involvement on Islington Square in London, a new 4.5 acre residential development by Sager Group located on the site of the former North London Royal Mail sorting office on Upper Street, Islington.

The complexity of the project called for a collaborative approach and Central Piling worked with the client and all parties during the early design stages to enable a value-engineered solution which delivered the project on time and within budget.

The awards, which are in their 10th year, have attracted record number of entries and Ground Engineering editor Claire Smith commented: “This year’s shortlist is a true showcase of the range and breadth of the projects undertaken by our industry each year. The standard of the work demonstrated in this year’s entries is outstanding and getting onto the shortlist is an achievement in itself.”

The winners will be announced on June 6th at a glamorous ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane hotel in London where more than 800 of the industry elite will join together for an event filled with entertainment, celebration and networking.