Community

Cassiobury Park

Watford, Hertfordshire

CLIENT: Watford Borough Council
ARCHITECT: Knox Bhavan
QUANTITY SURVEYOR: FT Allen
VALUE: £5,400,000
CONTRACT PERIOD: 69 Weeks

This 18 month-long scheme saw works take place across what is, at 190 acres, Watford’s largest public open space. Attracting around 2 million visitors a year, Cassiobury Park’s historic importance was recognised in 1999 when it entered at Grade II in the English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Historical Interest.

The project, on behalf of Watford Borough Council, was made possible by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery and incorporated:

  • The careful restoration and relocation of a Grade II listed Hill and Smith Bandstand from the Town Hall back to its original home in the park
  • Refurbishment works to the existing Cha Cafe including the creation of a new external playground and surrounding paving/landscaping works
  • The creation of a new entrance to the park which features a “footprint” of the old gatehouse laid out in the cobblestones
  • Restoration of the former Mill to Cassiobury House, the house itself was demolished in 1927

The final phase was the construction of a eco-friendly Hub Building and the modernisation of existing paddling pools in the heart of the park. Set into the landscape the Hub is finished with striking CorTen weathered steel cladding and features a cafe, exhibition rooms, educational facilities, changing facilities for the nearby sports pitches, toilets and office space for park staff.

An environmentally friendly approach was adopted from the outset to ensure the construction process was optimised and the finished build was as sustainable as possible. Impressively, considering the size of the build, only two skips worth of waste were removed from site throughout the duration of the project. Sustainable features incorporated into the design include roof mounted solar panels, air source heat pumps, a living sedum roof and a rain water harvesting system.

The existing paddling pools were also removed and replaced with new state-of-the-art facilities. Two underground water tanks capable of storing 140,000 litres of water were installed to feed the new pools which feature new splash fountains, water cannons and buttons for children to interact with and control water flow.

Time lapse footage of the Hub and pools construction:

The project scored an above industry average 42 out of 50 with the Considerate Constructors Scheme. One area the assessor was particularly impressed by was our project teams approach to the local community: “the company have performed to an exceptional level with regard to community engagement, they have given considerably both in financial terms, and their personal and considerate attendance”.

Community initiatives included a very well attended ‘Meet the Builders Day’ at which members of the project team were on hand to explain exactly what was happening on site and answer any questions about the build. Children’s competitions were also held and informative talks were given explaining the various careers available, and how best to make a start in the construction industry.

We also utilised our expertise and resources available to support a fantastic charity project within the park which involved the rejuvenation of a small patch of land to form a community garden. Although plans to transform the overgrown site had been in the making for 3 years progress ground to a halt when funding was not sufficient enough to include it in the larger park scheme. Once aware of the project our Site Managers were keen to get involved and offered the services of some of the heavy equipment on site to clear and flatten the plot, the removed top soil was then used to form a raised seating area.

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