3rd February 2022

Healthy progress at Luton & Dunstable University Hospital

Work on an acute services block and new ward block at Luton & Dunstable University Hospital started in January. With completion due for 2024, Kier has been appointed as lead contractor to oversee the successful delivery of the facilities on schedule. However, getting to this point was not without some considerable, exceptional challenges.

Going back to August 2019, around six months before the first lockdown, the Government’s £850m investment in a hospital redevelopment programme was announced. In need of modernisation and work to bring its facilities up to standard, Luton and Dunstable University Hospital was one of 20 projects chosen for funding by the scheme. Perega was appointed as civil engineering and structural engineering consultants for the programme.

Fast-forward to early 2020, during the initial planning and design phase of the development. If the Perega team working on the project at the time had been told that most of their meetings over the next two years would be through Microsoft Teams, they might not have believed the programme would stay on track and that construction would be starting next month as planned. However, if anyone has the resourcefulness to shift quickly to new ways of working, it’s engineers.

Luton and Dunstable University Hospital

RIBA Stage 3 design started in the midst of lockdown in April 2020, demanding a new approach to collaboration. While communication and coordinating were initially a challenge, within weeks, those working on the project had adapted and were holding design team meetings and sharing drawings virtually.

By the time Stage 4.1 started last July, lockdown or not, remote meetings had become a regular way of working. Providing a scheme that could confidently be delivered within budget was key, which made finishing this stage on time a significant undertaking, as the initial plan needed several million pounds of cost removed.

On site, the physical layout of the hospital presented a different kind of challenge. Comprised of several buildings, there were a number of service tunnels running through and around the area. Fortunately, demolition was able to proceed during the design stages, revealing their location before construction started.

The programme will see an emphasis on sustainability and prefabrication. GGBS replacement cement concrete is being used to reduce the embodied carbon in the structure, while a number of components are being produced offsite.

Ewa Ambrosius, Perega associate and lead on the project, says: “Works having started last month is testament to the team’s persistence and ingenuity in the face of numerous hurdles. The pandemic has meant this hasn’t been a conventional programme, but it continues to be a successful one.

Ewa Ambrosius

“These new blocks will help improve the hospital’s critical services and clinical outcomes, so we’re happy that nothing’s slowed the project down.”

To find out more about Perega’s engineering expertise in the healthcare sector, visit our “healthcare sector” page.