Construction time again at housing developments
Social distancing marshals and one-way systems are just some of the safety measures introduced on housing developments under construction in Congleton after building work recommenced this work following the seven-week lockdown.
It came after the prime minister's announcement on Sunday that the construction industry could re-start as the Government attempts to get the country working again.
Barratt Developments, parent company of David Wilson Homes, has started a phased re-opening of its construction sites in Cheshire, including the Scholars Green development on Hassall Road in Alsager, the former MMU campus, where more than 400 properties will be built. Development work at Black Firs Park, Congleton, has also recommenced.
Work is being prioritised on already sold plots at advanced stages of construction.
In line with the lockdown retail regulations, the company is not reopening its sales centres or show homes yet, but will continue to deal with customers remotely.
A statement released on Tuesday said a detailed set of working practices and protocols has been developed by David Wilson so that its construction sites can operate safely and in line with the latest guidance from Government, public health authorities and the Construction Leadership Council. This includes changes to signage, site welfare facilities and compounds, site access and walkways. These measures have already successfully been implemented on one of its sites as a pilot, the statement added.
A nominated social distancing marshal will also be present on all sites to ensure compliance and the company will provide induction, training and support for its employees and sub-contractors.
Robert Holbrook, managing director at David Wilson Homes North West, said: “Our first priority is the health and safety of our employees, sub-contractors and customers. We have created a detailed set of working practices and protocols for employees and sub-contractors to ensure that we can reopen our construction sites safely, in a phased and measured way, which minimises risk. In line with our commitment to put our customers first, we will be prioritising the completion of those homes that our customers have already exchanged or reserved.
“I would also like to thank our employees who have been fantastic during this challenging time, both those who have worked hard to get us ready to restart and our employees who are not currently working.”
Mr Holbrook added: “As a business committed to doing the right thing, we have been supporting the NHS and our communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We have donated PPE to local NHS services and defibrillators to St John's Ambulance from our sites across the region and are working with charities and organisations to help local communities. We are also encouraging staff to volunteer and use their time to do whatever they can to help people during this difficult period.”
Prospect Homes has also started the phased return of construction teams, including those working at Hall Drive Park in Alsager, where more than 120 homes are being built Martin Caldwell, head of construction at Prospect Homes, said: “Health and safety is of paramount importance and we've been working hard behind the scenes to plan the phased reopening of our construction sites, including Hall Drive Park. Site managers were back on our developments last week and from Monday we've had construction teams on site in reduced numbers to enable social distancing. Numbers vary daily and with fewer people on site, it may take slightly longer to build a home, but safety is imperative.”
He added: “We've updated our policies and procedures in-line with Government and industry guidelines and re-inducted our staff and contractors to ensure they're aware of the changes. For example, signing in procedures have been changed so that rather than everyone having to physically sign a book, they call or text the site manager.
“We've introduced extra precautions for first aiders and briefed them on how to identify Covid-19 symptoms. Face shields and masks have been issued for anyone administering first aid. We've also installed extra sanitising and handwashing points and enhanced cleaning regimes of welfare facilities.”
To help maintain social distancing a one-way system in the site compound has been introduced and the site office can only be accessed by calling ahead.
Mr Caldwell said: “Other measures include limiting the number of people working in a plot and we have introduced a door entry system so that people know if it's empty and they can go in or if they should stay outside because there's someone already in there. We still have a lot of contractors who are dad and lad businesses with the father and son living and working together, so on occasions there may be two people from the same family who are allowed to be alongside each other.”
Persimmon Homes confirmed that The Hedgerows site on Crewe Road is operational, working within guidelines issued by Public Health England.