Providing Strategic Communications Consultancy
to the Built Environment

5 November 2015


Crofton, the Kent based building services consulting engineer with offices in Tonbridge, has won the 2015 Constructing Excellence Sustainability award category for London and the South East, for its role on the new Big Parks project in Peacehaven.  

Lewes District Council’s Big Parks Project provides a gateway to exploring the South Downs National Park. The £2.1m community-led project (funded by Southern Water and Bovis Homes) incorporates 30 acres and includes a central activity café, children’s playgrounds, new cycle paths, skate park, and sports facilities. In response to public feedback and the design team’s aspirations, this project is designed to educate and be enjoyed by all sections of the community, using a mix of highly visible renewable energy technology and durable low-maintenance construction materials.

The Gateway Café (previously an old Groundsmans maintenance building) is the Big Park’s main visitor attraction and its long-term economic viability is key to the client’s vision and success of the project. Even with a tight budget, Crofton agreed that integrating sustainable technologies was fundamental to meeting the project targets and these were given priority during the value engineering process. Both the M&E and architectural solutions ensure the café benefits from low running costs, energy efficiency and longevity and incorporates: a biomass boiler, fuelled with locally sourced pellets – a key visual feature to support learning, PV panels, a solar panel, LED lighting and solar shading with external canopies.

The original structure is externally insulated and over-clad with locally sourced sweet chestnut – a naturally durable, fast-growing, replaceable timber that optimises the natural thermal mass in the high-density masonry. All materials were chosen to not only reduce the carbon footprint of the construction process, but for their durability, reduced maintenance costs and potential for recycling.

Shaun Barkshire, the Crofton engineer in charge of the project commented: “We are tremendously proud to have won this award. The project provided good learning opportunities for the whole team and Crofton ensured that a junior engineer played an important role in delivering the project, developing experience and skills for the future. Representatives from other councils are visiting Big Parks to understand how to build similar sustainable schemes and acknowledge that it is a considerable achievement for Lewes District Council. An incredible 5,000 people attended Big Parks opening in March 2015, demonstrating the power of the two-way dialogue between the team and community and how engaged everyone is with the project.” 

Councillor Andy Smith, Lead Member and Project Board Chair at Lewes District Council said: “The board members and I are thrilled that Lewes District Council’s Big Parks Project won the Sustainability Award in the highly prestigious Constructing Excellence Awards 2015. The judges recognised the excellent community buy-in, engagement and considerable consultation and thinking about the long-term legacy of the park that provides a focal point for the community and facilities for local businesses to thrive. 

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