This month our regional spotlight feature falls on the ECA’s Central South region and its members

A facelift for the Central South region

Despite the challenging economic climate we’ve faced over the past year, there are a number of very welcome regeneration projects destined to breathe new life into many of our town centres, writes Tony Parish, manager for the ECA’s Central South region.

Construction work is in full swing at Newbury, Berkshire, as the Park Way, a multimillion-pound project in an area of town that is much in need of regeneration, gets under way.

It is hoped that the project, which will include shops, houses and an underground car park, will help promote Newbury's status as a major centre for shoppers and visitors.

Meanwhile, the town centre of Bracknell in Berkshire is set to benefit from a £750 million mixed-use regeneration scheme, and Swindon, home to many manufacturers, distributors and financiers, is on the cusp of a huge regeneration project instigated by the New Swindon Company.

The project is expected to bring more than £200 million of private and public sector investment into the town centre.

“Reading, plans are under way to build a 1.4 million sq ft mixed-use scheme adjacent to Reading Station. The Station Hill project will include offices, shops, apartments and a new arts venue.

Plans are also afoot for the station itself, with a major upgrade expected to double the number of trains serving Reading. The project is being cited as one of the most important rail schemes in the UK over the next decade.

Project case studies

1. Pinewood colour

Aldershot-based Scomac Services has been carrying out the m&e work on a new headquarters for the Theatrical Services and Digital Cinema distribution operations of Thomson-owned Technicolor, which is being built at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire.

The new Technicolor building is being constructed on the site of the world-famous film and television production facilities and will comprise a 32 000 sq ft film lab offering integrated film and front-end services, release printing, and digital cinema distribution services.

Scomac Services will be involved with the project for six months, during which time it will complete the full m&e package, including installation of HVAC systems and specialist film-processing equipment.

2. Ashmolean revamp

The world’s oldest public museum, the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford, is undergoing a £61m redevelopment.

Local ECA contractor Lowe and Oliver is installing the m&e works in a new museum building.

The works include advanced environmental controls that will enable even the most rare and fragile items to be displayed.

Designed by architect Rick Mather, the five-floor building will provide 39 new galleries, doubling the existing display space.

It will also include an education centre, three study centres and a rooftop restaurant.

Museum director Dr Christopher Brown says: “At its opening in 1683, The Ashmolean was seen as a beacon of learning for a new scientific age.

“With our new building and a completely fresh approach to how our collections are displayed, we will be equipped to lead the way in meeting the challenges of the next 300 years.”

3. Think tanks

One of the largest m&e contractors in the region has been involved in a multimillion-pound project to redevelop a museum housing the world’s largest collection of armoured vehicles.

Wessex Building Services, based in Shaftesbury, Dorset, was entrusted by Norwest Holst to carry out all the m&e work for an impressive new display hall at the famous Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset.

Wessex designed and installed all electrical work for the new museum and display hall, including daylight energy-saving lighting that adjusts, depending on the ambient light in the hall, and a colour-changing, scene-setting LED lighting system.

The company was also instrumental in designing the lighting for the museum’s new outdoor tank display arena, along with a public announcement system and pyrotechnics, all of which are centrally controlled for use during tank displays.

The display hall is a key element of the museum’s £16m Heritage Lottery Fund-sponsored redevelopment, and it is expected to open in early 2009.

Boscombe baywatch

Shaftesbury-based Partnership Security has been involved in an innovative scheme that is currently transforming Boscombe seafront.

Along with the creation of Europe’s first artificial surf reef and the refurbishment of Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth Borough Council has invested in the total transformation of the once-derelict Overstrand building on the promenade opposite the surf reef.

Boscombe Overstrand’s makeover includes 64 beachfront chalets. It also hosts the beachfront offices and four retail units.

Partnership Security was contracted to carry out all works to the building including main and sub-main supplies to all areas, new lighting scheme, addressable fire alarm system and CCTV.

Region busy building relationships

From its regional office in Newbury, Berkshire, the Central South region covers Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Hampshire and parts of Wiltshire and Somerset.

With more than 450 members and client associates, the region is highly practised at handling a broad range of enquiries.

The region recently ran a series of client-specifier business mornings to bring clients and end-users up to date with changes in laws and best practice.

Working closely with members, the region has also pioneered an initiative aimed at insurance professionals to highlight the hidden perils of poor electrical installations, the dangers of counterfeit products and the important work of the Fire & Security Association.

This has led to ongoing relationships between the ECA and the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters, Chartered Institute of Insurers and Association of British Insurers.