Unsung heroes of DMU development finishing off work on campus

by Tyler Arthur

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With the Vijay Patel building and the new Student Union both now open to the students, the De Montfort University campus has finally reached the end of its redevelopment process.

It is easy to forget that there is still work going on around the campus. In the shadow of the VP building, the unsung heroes of the ongoing process, tasked with remodelling the roads in the area, the construction company Danaher & Walsh, are still hard at work.

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After starting work back in 2016, D&W employees have been working their way down the main stretch of the university campus, along Mill Lane and branching off onto some of the adjacent roads.

Their work started by the Clephan Building, opposite Subway, and they are now all the way down to the De Montfort Surgery.

The construction had to be deliberately stretched over an extended timetable, to try and reduce the impact on students and avoid any negative influence on the university’s everyday running.

Instead of turning Mill Lane and The Gateway into a construction site – thus blocking off half of the campus from the other – the decision was made, in conjunction with DMU, to break the work up into more sizeable sections.

The work itself is on the footpath/road system which students use to access and navigate the campus and many of its buildings, and so the work was specifically planned to make sure that there was no building or route which was inaccessible, even amidst constant work.

A first year Journalism student at DMU, Lucy Billington-Groom, 19, said: “Although I was delayed by a couple of minutes, it could be a lot worse, with the amount of work they’ve been doing.”

Nigel Pierce, 60, a construction site agent of Danaher & Walsh, said that the process of planning such an intricate relationship between the roadworks and the university term times was very difficult.

“It’s like an ongoing battle,” he said, “There’s the logistics of [students] as well as us getting the job done.thumbnail_image-2

“Everybody still needs access to all of the buildings in the university, but at the end of the day we need to get on with our job.”

Due to the importance of accessibility, Nigel and the rest of the workers have had to work on the roads/footpaths in very small sections, where they can only fence off small areas, to do it as quickly as possible, and then move down.

The biggest problem which the project has faced comes from the lack of room they have inside their fenced off areas.

They are unable to store the materials they need (or the materials they don’t need anymore) on site, due to the reduced size of their workspace.

There has had to be a huge network formed, through which there are people working on the campus, people preparing and delivering resources to the scene, as well as removing the waste and excess from the site again.

This cyclical process is much less efficient than the usual system of working constantly, however the more staggered approach suits this particular task that D&W have been trusted with.

“Liaising [with the university], and envisaging, and then finally planning this job… It’s a long process, and it is hard work, but that’s what I love about it – problem solving,” Nigel added.

The work is almost done now, along with the rest of DMU’s £136 million campus development, and students will get to experience the majority of 2017 with hopefully unlimited freedom to wander the newly remodelled, and modernised campus.

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