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St. George's Square

VolkerHighways, on behalf of client Luton Borough Council, undertook a reconstruction of Luton's Town Hall Square in order to provide a pedestrian friendly open space for use by the community.

This £600,000 project involved the installation of 2,000m2 of granite setts and the design and installation of a bespoke podium feature and other street furniture. VolkerHighways led the design, buildability and value engineering processes during early contractor involvement (ECI) before the re-construction started.

VolkerHighways designed and delivered a programme of paving that was cost effective, safe and met the requirements of the Council to start and finish the entire project between the end of the carnival parade on the 31st of May and the town's Remembrance Day event.

It was agreed with the client during ECI to construct in a two stage process. Firstly, the central area of the town square was closed and hoarding and pedestrian routes around the edges were set up to provide safe access to businesses. Windows were cut into the hoarding to enable the public to see how the work was progressing. Secondly, the areas around the edges of the square and on the shops' thresholds were carried out in smaller sections to allow access after the large central section had been re-opened. The granite setts were sub-divided into five different types and laid in a pattern which needed to be aligned perfectly in order to meet symmetrically at the diagonal intersection of the square. This was a challenge as a few millimetres could make the difference between the pattern matching up or not. Three VolkerHighways stone mason teams worked non-stop for 19 weeks. During this period there were two Steintec bedding morter mixing silos in use at any one time with 12 required in total.

Luton was not only one of the selected towns for the Olympic Torch Relay Route but also one of the resting places for the 8m high Lady Godiva Awakes project on her way to the Olympic Stadium from Coventry. Inspired by the 2012 Olympics, a bespoke ornamental feature was conceptualised by project manager Tom Ransley to form a podium and enhance the spirit of the world respected sporting event. The new square was brought to life with thousands of spectators watching the lead off leg of the Torch Relay on 9th July when the torch was carried by Lewis Hamilton at 6 o'clock in the morning having driven in the British Grand Prix the day before.

Prior to the works the town square was a congested and cluttered space dominated by a road that made pedestrian movement challenging. The location, used for the town's Remembrance Day events, was unsuitable for large gatherings.  

The re-design means that the town square is now a free flowing, flexible space that forms a focal point for the community. The square is fully accessible to users of all levels of mobility.

The Luton project was acknowledged as being of great value and received over half the funding available nationally for the Home Office's ‘Crowded Places' initiative and has been held as an exemplar scheme combining the highest standards of security measures with an aesthetically pleasing design. This has added to the quality of the scheme and has made huge improvements to the safety and security of pedestrians in the area by creating a secure vehicle free zone, with emergency services able to enter the area through remote police controlled bollards using CCTV surveillance.

Colin Chick, corporate director of Environment and Regeneration at Luton Borough Council, said: "I would like to thank everyone involved, especially the gangs who worked relentlessly through the rain in order to get the works done on time. Their efforts were very much appreciated by the local community who was able to enjoy Remembrance Day in the new town square."

Lewis Hamilton carrying the Olympic Torch

St. George's Square

St. George's Square

St. George's Square

Facts and figures

  • Client
    Luton Borough Council
  • Project Value
  • Contract Period
    (Main works) 28 Weeks 01/06/11 – 10/11/11
  • Project categories
    Civil engineering

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