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Due to the topography, soils and difficult access, the preparation of a marginal housing site, at Tees Crescent, Stanley Co. Durham in 2006, could have meant considerable civil engineering works. When looking for solutions, the engineering department of Broseley Homes approached several ground engineering specialists, but Tensar International’s Tensartech TW1 Wall System offered the most practical and efficient approach in terms of time and cost savings.

The site is approximately 2800m2 covering 15 plots, for a range of units comprising three-bed end-of-terrace and two-bed mid- and end-of-terrace homes. The topography of the site is complicated with an 8 metre fall diagonally across the site. Access was restricted by two roads and an existing housing estate, so the use of heavy plant was not possible.

Part of the site had previously been used as a council storage yard facility and the remainder was undeveloped. The soil was found to comprise 0.2m
to 1.2 metres of made ground overlying a glacial till of sandy/ gravelly clays, which had a low load bearing capacity.

“To build the homes and provide gardens, two levelled platforms were required,“ commented Len Worsfold, Managing Director of Broseley Holmes. “Conventional solutions would have been lengthy and costly. To achieve a feasible alternative, Tensar’s Technical Design Department worked closely with us to develop and provide a design and supply package solution at an attractive cost.”

“There were time savings through the rapid installation without concrete curing, allowing quick access to site when complete, no hire costs for heavy plant and minimal imported fill. With mostly site won material for the fill, this was also an environmentally preferable solution. The Tensartech Wall System was easy to install and could be completed with manual labour.”

The solution comprises 32 individual low height retaining walls forming two terraces. The upper terrace supports the buildings, with paving in front and access to the rear of the homes. The area between terraces has a gentle slope and will be topsoiled and seeded to create garden plots for the houses; steps connect through from the top terrace to the street at the bottom with car parking space.

The terraces are constructed from fill stabilised with geogrid and faced with Tensar TW1 block walling which is an attractive, cast concrete masonry block, dry laid and anchored to the geogrid. The benefit of the Tensar solution was that no foundation was required below the walls, despite the poor ground conditions, making a significant cost saving.

Colin Thompson, Tensar Area Civil Engineer adds: “Our internally developed design software for wall and embankment installations enabled us to model the solution for the Stanley site with precision. This approach can save over 40% of the cost of an alternative concrete solution. It has been extensively proven in practice on infrastructure projects all over the world and has British Board of Agrément (BBA) certification, but has only relatively recently been introduced for housing development projects.”

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