The Boulevard is one of the most significant social placemaking projects of its kind currently being undertaken in the UK. Upon completion, the multi-phase project will include a fully-affordable tenure housing block, a new Town Hall and CAT-A offices, a 182-home housing development and a civic square, which will serve as a centre point for the community.
Indeed, the idea of fostering a greater sense of community is a key incentive for the project, which is being spearheaded by Crawley Borough Council. A primary driver behind the regeneration is to make Crawley’s town centre more accessible to pedestrians and those using sustainable transport, such as bicycles or e-scooters.
As part of the council’s ambitious plan to make the town one of the greenest in the region, new 1.8m wide cycle lanes have been introduced, alongside a paved walkway to improve connectivity between amenities for those travelling on foot or by bike.
The contractors leading the project, VolkerFitzpatrick, had specific requirements to adhere to when specifying paving for the walkway. As a high-footfall area, it had to be both durable and slip resistant, but aesthetically pleasing too – supporting the wider remit to ensure the Boulevard was an aspirational and attractive destination for residents and visitors alike.
To meet the specific requirements of this brief, VolkerFitzpatrick turned to hard landscaping specialist Charcon, an industry leading provider of paving solutions. The product specified was Charcon’s Andover Textured modular paving in Light Grey and Silver Fleck, with VolkerFitzpatrick using more than 7,000 square metres of the flags throughout the Boulevard.
Colin Bexley is a Project Manager at VolkerFitzpatrick and has played a key role in the redevelopment of the project. Colin says: “The Boulevard, Crawley, was a uniquely complex project, and one that went beyond a standard town centre revamp. The impetus behind the Boulevard is to turn it into a fantastic example of social placemaking and a real destination for the people of Crawley, fusing community with sustainability to create a truly unique space for the town.
“The Crawley, Boulevard, was a sizeable brief with several key components to consider, so it was important for us that our suppliers were knowledgeable and responsive. This is something we found in the team at Charcon. The Andover Textured modular paving they recommended was the ideal choice for the Crawley project; not only is it decorative and hardwearing, it is cost effective too - an important consideration in a project where budget was key.”
In addition to the paving, VolkerFitzpatrick also specified 1,700 linear square metres of Charcon’s Eco CSK. A premium kerb for edge restraint ideal for use in both pedestrian walkways and roads, the solution has fantastic sustainability credentials – manufactured from materials with up to 65% recycled content and a 50% reduction in embodied CO2 when compared to using imported Chinese granite kerbs.
Stuart Jupp, Key Contractor Manager at Charcon, says: “There were a number of elements to this brief, with the products needing to be attractive, sustainable and cost-effective. Thanks to our close working relationship with VolkerFitzpatrick, we were able to get under the skin of the project and ensure we were specifying projects that best supported the requirements of the brief.
“In every project we work on, we’re seeing continued increase in the focus put on sustainability. Both the Andover modular paving and Eco CSK kerbing we’ve supplied will really help the Boulevard, Crawley, work towards its green aims – without compromising on look or durability.”
Colin added: “Despite the complexity of this project, we have been able to complete our phase in good time. This is thanks in no small part to the reliability of Charcon as partners, and their ability to fulfil a 4-6 week lead time from the initial purchase through to delivery to site. This consistency was invaluable in helping us plan our site accordingly.
“The Boulevard, Crawley is an important project – not only for us as a business but also for what it represents for the town. By working in partnership with Charcon, we have been able to deliver a paving solution that completely meets the criteria of the brief. We’re looking forward to seeing that sense of place continue to form throughout the ongoing project.”