A Trade Magazine for Northern Ireland's Building & Design Professionals
Portstewart promenade is restored to its former glory, as part of an environmental enhancement works programme.
The £1,500,000 environmental enhancement works were carried out by GEDA Construction and included an upgrade of shop front paving, an upgrade of seafront promenade which also comprised decorative concrete, the installation of new curved stainless steel handrails, new street furniture and lighting columns and new underground services.
Although a relatively straightforward project in terms of what was required, working on such a weather-dependent, live site presented its own set of unique challenges. From the outset, GEDA was determined to minimise the effects of the works on local businesses. GEDA rented an apartment on the promenade for site Manager Niall McGovern for the six month duration of the contract to maintain a constant presence in the area.
“This helped us with our 24-hour call out service. It also showed local businesses that we were committed to ensuring they weren’t negatively affected by the construction works.”
Limiting the impact on local tourism, residents and the community as a whole was GEDA’s priority during construction. The logistics involved to ensure businesses remained operational and tourist events such as St Patrick’s Day and the North West 200 were unaffected required all hands on deck.
“The fact that I was essentially living on site meant that if there was an issue in the area or if we could see the benefit of doing something at night that would cause less impact, then we could do it.”
To allow for extended summer hours at Morelli’s ice cream, Niall and the team worked from midnight on the section closest to the shop.
“We were very happy to do that if it meant tourists could still come and go and Morelli’s was unaffected.” Social media updates also became a large element in ensuring tourists and local businesses were informed at all times of works.
Probably one of the most eye-catching elements of the improved Promenade is the red concrete ‘wave’ which reflects the beautiful sea-view backdrop. The wave was accomplished through the use of RTU’s Exposa Decorative Concrete product which offers not only a strong and durable surface but a slip-resistant and attractive finish. Street furniture and plants as well as the construction of new underground services and footpaths have created a new destination in the town, with minimal impact on businesses and tourists.
Bad weather, particularly in January and February, called for a flexible build programme.
“There’s no doubt, it was a challenging environment. Put it this way – you didn’t have to put salt on your chips!” Storms around this time added to issues on site. “As we were working by the seafront, there were various portions of the project where we had to allow for weather like that. On a daily basis we had tidal charts in conjunction with weather reports posted in our site office to allow us to plan ahead. We knew that if there was a high tide, it would likely lead to bad weather so we would limit the works on the lower promenade or sea wall and programme it correctly to ensure it didn’t cause us a delay.”
Eliminating the risk of any construction waste (dust, wash off etc) being released into the sea was also a key consideration for Niall and the team who worked diligently to ensure that any materials made obsolete by the new scheme were recycled. GEDA engaged with the Council to maximise the recycling of all concrete, paving, street furniture, lighting columns and handrailing.
“We set up a buffer zone, so our site boundary on the lower promenade was set a couple of meters back from what was our working boundary. We installed panels that were bolted to the ground to prevent them from being damaged. We had to ensure that if we were starting demolition works, there was a weather window there to allow us to get the work done and clear it out before the bad weather came in.”
Through diligence, commitment and an understanding of the needs of the local community, GEDA Construction has not only delivered a quality product but has also done so without disrupting business in the town. The new improvements have gone down a treat with locals and tourists alike, with the project recently scooping the prestigious ‘Best Environmental Improvement Scheme’ at The Irish Concrete Society Awards. The newly-enhanced appearance of Portstewart Promenade has resulted in a safer, cleaner seafront and is already attracting new visitors to the area.