The Gravity Link Road off Junction 23 of the M5, has won the New Build Project over £8 million category at the ICE South West Civil Engineering Awards. The awards, held by the Institution of Civil Engineers, showcase the collective and individual achievements of civil engineering in the region.
The scheme, designed in partnership with Stantec – global leaders in sustainable design and engineering, contractors Alun Griffiths and landscape architects, The Richards Partnership, provides a gateway to the state-of-the-art Gravity smart campus. This site is a 616-acre commercial innovation campus expected to create up to 7,500 jobs.
Gravity’s rural location adjacent to existing villages meant that local infrastructure wasn’t supportive for access to the innovation campus – through construction or into operation. Through consultation, the project team identified the need to retain public rights of way, enhance the local setting, and mitigate the effects of any construction to the local community.
In response to these challenges, Stantec and the wider team designed a new link road, with two roundabouts and a green bridge which has connected the site to the A39 and M5 Junction 23. The green bridge is the first of its kind in the region and is designed to blend into the prevailing topography to minimise its visual impact. The bridge also enhances local walking and equestrian routes.
The landscaping work included the incorporation of new permanent water bodies and around 5,000 new trees, resulting in a biodiversity net gain for the site. Throughout the project, the scheme reused more than 125,000m3 of material from the works, which meant that no material waste was taken off the site.
Commenting on the award win, Richard Smith, Senior Associate, at Stantec said: “With any project we approach at Stantec, sustainability, climate resilience and a commitment to carbon reduction are put front and centre of our plan. At the same time, we need to make sure that we minimise disruption, and that the resulting infrastructure has a positive impact on the area and the surrounding communities. The opening of the road has removed through traffic from the village of Puriton, creating a safer village, improving air quality, and creating a more pleasant public environment.
“The engagement carried out prior to, and through construction, ensured the local community were continually updated on progress. We’re delighted that this link road project has won this award, and is now helping provide positive, sustainable access to a nationally important location which is providing fantastic benefits for the region. Congratulations to everyone involved.”
Paul Lowndes, Programme Director at This is Gravity commented “This win belongs to the whole team and is thoroughly deserved. The Gravity team is proud of the collaboration which enables us to create award-winning, world-class infrastructure that will benefit local communities and attracts large-scale operators to Gravity.
“Our ongoing commitment to Gravity’s 4R’s (Recover, Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse) Strategy, that of ensuring that no material unnecessarily becomes landfill, is critical to Gravity’s mission to create a low-carbon environment that promotes clean growth opportunities through site construction and operation.”