Weather fails to stop Blakedown

Contractor on course to complete work on site at York St John University despite weather delays.

Sports pitches: Blakedown working on site at York St John University. Image: Blakedown
Sports pitches: Blakedown working on site at York St John University. Image: Blakedown

Work on university sports pitches in York is on course to be completed in September despite challenging weather conditions and the soil type on the site.

Blakedown Landscapes is currently on site at York St John University to construct the equivalent of 10 natural sports pitches over 6.6ha.

The university appointed Blakedown as main contractor to rejuvenate the existing sports pitch and install a new drainage system. Blakedown started work on the site in May 2014.

The £390,000 scheme has required extensive cut and fill, regrade works, the application of gypsum sand and the construction of a lateral drainage system.

Senior contracts manager Phil Townsend, who is managing the works, said there have been a number of difficulties. "The main challenge has been the nature of the soil. The topsoil is fantastic - almost too much - and beneath that is a silty layer that absorbs the water, and then clay, so it's like walking on custard."

Some machines that are regularly used are too heavy, he said. "We've had to adapt our method of working and the machines we've used."

The weather has also caused problems, said Townsend. "We were rained off three times during 2014 - the site flooded. Each time it was approximately a two-week delay before we could get back on."

The area has now been cultivated and seeded, and there is grass cover over the whole project. This was followed by an intensive maintenance programme, which is currently being implemented.

Townsend pointed out that the final stage of gravel banding is due to take place in the last week of August and first week of September, weather permitting.

"The cut-and-fill exercise took longer than anybody envisaged and now it's a race against time to get the grass established," he said.

Key Stat

66,000 square metres - Blakedown Landscapes is constructing 66,000sq m of new sports turf at York St John University.

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