Completion of Unique Scheme at Calke Abbey National Trust

Fitzgerald Contractors are pleased to announce the successful completion of a wide range of civil engineering works at the Grade 1 listed Calke Abbey Estate in Derbyshire, with the newly constructed Calke Explore Outdoor Hub realising National Trust’s aims of bringing improved facilities and ensuring that the site continues to be protected.

The £1.6m scheme was delivered across a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in a challenging environment, both from the wetland works location and the live nature of the works, with 384,561 annual visitors on-site throughout the project duration.

The scope of works comprised extensive earthworks and drainage including construction of a new 100 space car park built from porous pave, provision of footpath and cycleway routes and outdoor recreation areas, including natural play and nature trails over 600 acres of parkland.

The primary objective of the scheme was the safe and efficient construction of the proposed works whilst maintaining the existing amenities of Calke Abbey and mitigating the impact of the works upon the local environment.

The potential for damage or pollution to the natural environment and its plant and wildlife within the Calke Abbey site was identified as a major risk at preconstruction stage – the works took place during breeding season and of particular note, the watercourses were home to rare beetles and white crayfish. Consequently, Fitzgerald’s in-house planning team redesigned aspects of the works so that we could maintain watercourses to facilitate water movement throughout the site.

Notably, the Fitzgerald team designed and constructed a unique ‘human badger sett’ within the Outdoor Hub, which features as one of the most exciting new attractions for young visitors. The sett is made up of 3 pods with interconnecting tunnels and the structure constructed from reinforced concrete. The sett design presented a significant challenge to meeting the client’s specified finish which was successfully achieved through a spray concrete gunite application.

Fitzgerald Contractors Managing Director Nick Coley said: ‘The scheme presented numerous challenges, the key areas of focus being the interface with the general public and the biosecurity of the site. Our design coordination involved providing buildability advice before we began works on-site, this centred upon maintaining access and safe segregation of our works for the general public visiting Calke Abbey. Our works programme was phased and work methodologies were adapted to ensure biosecurity measures were met and site’s ecology was protected. We’re delighted to have completed a challenging and complex project and to have further strengthened our ongoing partnership with the National Trust.’

National Trust General Manager Stewart Alcock said ‘We are really pleased with reaching completion of this phase of the project and the end result looks amazing. This has been achieved on an ecologically sensitive and difficult site under the full gaze of several hundred thousand visitors with high expectations. A key ingredient of success has been the working relationship we established with the whole Fitzgerald team, as well as the way they positively responded to our requests to work with care and understanding for the site’.