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To prepare a marginal site for housing, in Crumpsall, Greater Manchester in 2005/2006, included the prospect of considerable civil engineering to overcome the topography and soils. However, developer Redrow Homes worked with Tensar International, using the Tensartech TW! Wall System, to construct three development platforms without the use of conventional time consuming, and costly, heavy concreting and piles which would otherwise have been required.

The site at Charminster Drive, Crumpsall totalled approximately 6 acres, with planning permission for 68 homes (3/4 bed detached and 3 bed mews/terraced units) and 100 apartments.

The site was located close to the valley of the River Irk, heavily vegetated with weeds and subjected to fly tipping over the wet clay-based soils. The height difference across the site was around 17 metres, with a 7 metre max. deep valley running through the middle.

John Roocroft, Engineering Manager for Redrow Homes comments: “The cut and fill contract was carried out in two phases, to provide 3 development platforms for the housing and apartments, with a maximum height difference between the platforms of 3 to 4 metres.

“As the engineer for the project, I had been concerned with the quality of the ground and the potential cost of a conventional solution which would have involved deep piling and extensive formed concreting – a very costly process, with considerable time incurred in construction and curing.

“Instead, I had some previous experience of using Tensar products in ground stabilisation, and I had attended a Tensar workshop which had provided extensive information on the Tensartech Wall System of retaining walls combined with geogrid technology.

“The Tensar technical team were very helpful in creating a groundworks solution for the Crumpsall site, which could be completed in weeks rather than months. We had originally intended using the locally won site clays for fill with the geogrids, but very heavy weather conditions and the exceptionally poor quality would have added further time delays, so imported granular fill was used. Despite this, the costs were still significantly better than ‘hard’ solutions.

“The platform embankments for the housing were built up using geogrids and aggregate which were anchored to the attractive split-face, dry laid facing blocks. Although a high quality cast stone block was used on one of the walls, it proved too heavy to handle easily, so the Tensar facing blocks were used which, although lighter, provide a strong structural solution and are easy to lay.”

Craig Roberts, Tensar Area Civil Engineer comments: ”Our internally developed design software for wall and embankment installations enabled us to model the solution for the Crumpsall site with precision. This approach has been extensively proven in practice on infrastructure projects all over the world, but its merits are being recognised for housing development projects, as the system has British Board of Agrément (BBA) certification with a 120 year design life.”


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