Dealing with underground utility detection at Blackwall Reach

Making sure you don't damage buried utilities is behind the use of the PAS128 process - which has had positive results on every level for the £300m redevelopment of Blackwall Reach.

Drilling down to the detail: Using PAS 128 processes at one of London's largest regeneration projects has proved invaluable
Drilling down to the detail: Using PAS 128 processes at one of London's largest regeneration projects has proved invaluable

Designing and building a complex city centre brownfield project is fraught with challenges, one of which is the location of existing underground infrastructure and its impact on the future development. Utility diversions can be costly and complex.

Damaging existing utility infrastructure during the construction phase is also disruptive and expensive with huge health and safety implications.

Swan Housing Group, in partnership with London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority is redeveloping Blackwall Reach in East London. The site is a mixture of commercial use and existing social housing, which requires full redevelopment and regeneration. With a total project value of £300m and consisting of 1,575 new homes, together with Swan's regional housing office, a multi-purpose community facility, shops and cafés, and a replacement mosque, the proposed project has won praise for its wide ranging and ambitious redevelopment.

Swan Housing's consulting engineers, Hoare Lea, required a thorough process to assess and map the heavily congested project parameter of underground utilities and infrastructure. Aware of the PAS128:2014 specification for underground utility detection, verification and location and its robust process, Hoare Lea awarded Subscan Technology the tender to carry out four main phases:

  • Survey type D: Desktop utility records search and analysis
  • Survey type C: Site reconnaissance
  • Survey type B: Detection of utilities by multiple geophysical methods
  • Survey type A: Verification of utility positions by strategic excavations

The case study explains how the use of the PAS128 process to assess and verify underground infrastructure has had a positive outcome on all levels of the design and build and allowed tight deadlines to be achieved.

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About the Author

John Robinson was one of the authors of PAS128 and a Steering Group member of PAS256. He has been active in the survey and utility mapping profession for over 34 years with extensive national and international experience. John was MD of Subscan Technology Ltd and is now a Director Of Malcolm Hughes Land Surveyors www.malcolmhughes.co.uk.

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