Date: 19th June 2020

Curtins appointed on £750m Innovation Chain Framework

Great Places Housing Group has launched its new Innovation Chain North (previously Innovation Chain North West) construction framework, to which Curtins are proud to have been appointed for Principal Designer and Health & Safety Advisor services and Site Investigation.

Great Places and fellow Housing Associations are looking to deliver their Development programmes through this framework, valued at £750m.

It is hoped that the framework will enable Great Places to deliver 11,000 new homes by 2028.

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Curtins launches virtual student placements

Date: 7th July 2020

Curtins launches virtual student placements

Following the successful launch of Curtins Academy online, we are pleased to say we have extended our opportunities for digital learning and development to student placements, having recently enrolled a civil engineering university student in a bespoke, voluntary virtual programme.

Businesses, such as ourselves, have a responsibility to ensure that there are opportunities for the next generation of engineers to gain valuable working experience, even during a period of country-wide lockdown. Working collaboratively with Olivia Rosengarten, a third-year student at Heriot-Watt University, we have created a bespoke programme of work experience that will allow her to develop her own learning objectives whilst working from home.

Olivia has previously undertaken work experience with us from our London office, but this voluntary virtual placement is already proving to have advantages over the traditional format. Seminars with our senior team can now take place across the business. This has so far included a director from our Bristol office who specialises in sustainability, a specific area of interest for Olivia.

We will be sharing Olivia’s experiences over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, we are exploring the ways in which we can extend the voluntary virtual placement offer and apply best practice learning to future office-based placements too.

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Planning permission granted for Sale West Estate

Date: 24th June 2020

Planning permission granted for Sale West Estate

Planning permission has been granted by Trafford Council for the Sale West Estate proposals, which will provide 79 quality family homes, car park improvements, safe play areas, improved highways and enhanced amenity spaces.

Outline planning has also been granted for a further 184 homes as part of a second phase of development, subject to a reserved matters application.

Through our bespoke Foursite pre-planning service, we have provided transport planning, infrastructure, geo-environmental and structural engineering services, which have assisted in achieving this planning milestone.

Working as one, our transport planning team prepared a Transport Assessment, Travel Plan and Construction Traffic Management Plan, whilst our infrastructure team delivered a Flood Risk & Drainage Strategy, and the S278 pack for the detailed phase of development. Geo-Environmental have been responsible for Phase 1 and Phase 2 Ground Investigation reports, and the structures team provided initial structural advice.

To fully identify and unlock any site constraints, we also appointed sub-consultants: Hoare Lea (for Air Quality and Noise Impact Assessments, and Carbon Budget Statement), Rachel Hacking Ecology (for Ecology and Green Infrastructure) and Tree Solutions (for Arboricultural Impact Assessment).

Having worked collaboratively with the client – Irwell Valley Homes – and the multi-disciplinary project team (CPC, Nexus Planning, AEW Architects and Exterior Architecture), we are pleased to have seen planning permission granted for this exciting development.

Image courtesy of AEW Architects.

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Curtins takes vital staff training and development programme online

Date: 19th June 2020

Curtins takes vital staff training and development programme online

We are pleased to say that as of Tuesday 16th June, we are successfully running our Curtins Academy online. Our founder, Bill Curtin instilled the importance of staff development in our ‘DNA’. So, when faced with relocating all staff to home working and a future where group training days in our head office seemed unlikely, we decided to switch to a digital delivery.

Curtins Academy is a transformational four-year development programme that presents key technical, professional and commercial industry principles to our graduates, in line with the main relevant professional institutions. Thanks to our Head of Learning & Development, Rebecca King the Academy is now being delivered in full remotely.

To complement structured learning tutorials, our chosen online platform has allowed us to create break-out groups for practical interactivity and increased engagement. This closely resembles our former learning format, but has taken us a step closer towards our digital delivery goals for the business.

The inaugural online session covered Decision Making for 25 Year 3 graduates, led by Directors Diarmuid Healy and Dan Evans. A year one module for fresh graduates is to follow.

Thanks to this change in delivery format, we are pleased to say that the programme can be completed on time. This will ensure that there is no delay to the graduates’ development and their progress towards Chartership with their chosen professional institution.

Find out more about Curtins Academy here.

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Cleve Hill Solar Park reaches milestone in UK renewable energy

Date: 16th June 2020

Cleve Hill Solar Park reaches milestone in UK renewable energy

Cleve Hill Solar Park, a joint venture between Wirsol and Hive Energy, has become the first solar development in the UK to be classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

We are proud to have provided transport planning and civil engineering services for the project, which was granted a Development Consent Order on 28th May 2020.

The development is located on land two kilometres northeast of Faversham and five kilometres west of Whitstable, on the North Kent Coast and will be able to generate in excess of 350MWp, enough to power more than 91,000 homes, and saving over 68,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. The Solar Park will also include what will be the world’s largest battery installation on the site.

The granting of the DCO marks a milestone in renewable energy for the UK, particularly given targets to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

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The importance of embodied carbon data analysis

Date: 15th May 2020

The importance of embodied carbon data analysis

The threat of climate change and the impact caused by buildings and the built environment has been acknowledged since the 1990’s, but recently, in 2019, architects and engineers declared a Climate Emergency.

The industry has seen significant work in recent years to improve and reduce operational carbon in buildings through improve design, driven largely by regulatory requirements.

When the Government talks about ‘Zero Carbon’, it is referring mainly to operational carbon in use. It is acknowledged however, that by 2030 the vast majority of the carbon impact associated with buildings will be embodied carbon.

It is critical, therefore, that to truly achieve our sustainable development needs and fully realise a decarbonisation vision, embodied carbon within the building structure and fabric is evaluated and minimised.

On Earth Day 2020, we announced the climate action measures we are undertaking as a business and made changes to the way we work. We now analyse the embodied carbon in our structures, measure the tonnage of carbon and appraise low carbon design options.

Through measuring the amount of carbon in our designs, we are looking to raise awareness of our impact and to offer low carbon solutions that can be considered; appraising their impact against other key drivers.

As part of this initiative, we are offering CPD workshops to raise awareness of the climate emergency, the importance of embodied carbon for sustainability and to introduce our 7 steps for managing the issue.

We have developed an embodied carbon assessment toolkit that calculates the carbon in our principal construction materials (e.g. steel, concrete, timber, etc.). This embodied carbon data has been embedded into our REVIT models, so the carbon tonnage can be presented visually. The models highlight the carbon hot spots in our structure, so that our engineers can make informed decisions on where further engineering effort should be focused to minimise the impact of the particular solution. Our holistic approach includes an overview of other sustainability considerations, such as transportation and geotechnical considerations.

Our approach can extend to the civil elements of design, measuring carbon in roads and hardstandings, combining this innovation with our Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) designs.

We have already begun using embodied carbon data to inform our designs, providing lean, low carbon, low waste options. We hope it becomes one step of many to meeting our decarbonisation vision.

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It’s Earth Day

Date: 22nd April 2020

It’s Earth Day

Earth Day 2020 has arrived with an urgent spotlight on climate action. As a business, we acknowledge that we need to look at our systems and processes to respond to the threat of climate change, and help protect the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. So, what are we doing?

What are Curtins doing?

Sustainability steering group

Curtins’ specialist steering group are looking at initiatives and best practice from a design workflow perspective. Our present focus is carbon footprint analysis for our civil and structural projects.

We intend to carry out an analysis on all steel frame and concrete frame structures to provide the total carbon footprint data for the structure, the data of which will be placed on our drawings.

Staff consultation – Environmental Survey and Carbon Footprint Survey

We are responding to survey feedback from our staff with new initiatives and promotions; working to reduce our carbon footprint and fuel use through new programmes and travel plans.

In addition, our increased focus on reducing paper use and a waste management policy will streamline our recycling of materials across the business.

Suppliers

We are currently incorporating a carbon monitoring system into the pre-qualification pack for our approved suppliers. Existing suppliers will be sent out the questionnaire at time of renewal and we will be monitoring the progress of our suppliers’ own carbon footprint reductions.

ESOS Phase 2

We have submitted our Phase 2 ESOS report to the Environment Agency and are studying the potential of the various recommendations provided by our assessment team to improve our carbon footprint across the business.

Company fuel use is top of our agenda. We are phasing out company diesel vehicles to bring in a suite of pool cars that are either hybrid or fully electric.

However, reducing our travel requirements would have even greater benefits, so we are upgrading our communication and conferencing facilities in order to hold more virtual meetings.

We are also implementing a phased replacement of lighting to LED’s across the business and installing sensor lighting where possible.

Certification to ISO 14001 2015 Environmental Management Systems

We are audited annually by Alcumus ISOQAR and certified to ISO 14001 2015 for our Environmental Management System of work. This certification process is complemented by our own internal rigorous auditing system, incorporating quarterly audits across all offices.

UK Structural Engineers Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency

For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour.

Recognising this, we are committing to strengthen our working practices to create engineering outcomes that have more positive impact on the world around us.

Curtins have signed the declaration from a civil engineering and structural engineering perspective. See detail here https://structuralengineersdeclare.com/ and https://www.civilengineersdeclare.com/

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Curtins smash 2019 charity fundraising target by more than double

Date: 6th April 2020

Curtins smash 2019 charity fundraising target by more than double

Each year Curtins staff choose a charity partner to focus our fundraising efforts on. 2019 was our most successful year to date, as our staff went above and beyond to raise a phenomenal £34,149.53 for Marie Curie. That’s more than twice the original £15,000 we challenged ourselves!

Our staff organised lots of different fundraising activities and challenges, from sponsored bike rides and fun runs, to bake sales, Tough Mudders and a three peaks challenge. One staff member in Liverpool even shaved her head, raising over £2,000 alone! Thanks also to concrete detailers AABCO who donated 5% of their drawing fees to our cause.

We didn’t just help Marie Curie with fundraising. We covered the cost of a day’s leave for staff to spend volunteering in Marie Curie shops, helping with gardening and decorating at hospices throughout the country.

This year we were able to help Marie Curie uniquely, too. As part of our employee benefits package, our staff can enjoy holidays in one of our four lodges across the UK. We were pleased to gift the use of our lodges to families supported by Marie Curie affected by bereavement. It was a small gesture we able to do, but from the messages we received from those families, we know it was something that really helped them.

Marie Curie strives to care for people and their families living with a terminal illness. They provide specialist palliative care in hospices or people’s homes 24/7.
At the time of writing, Marie Curie Nurses and frontline care staff are needed more than ever as the NHS feels the strain of the COVID-19 health crisis. Marie Curie’s fundraising activities are grinding to a halt under the lockdown conditions, and they urgently need donations. Please give what you can to their emergency appeal.

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Curtins proposed for city’s highest honour

Date: 26th February 2020

Curtins proposed for city’s highest honour

Curtins is thrilled to be put forward for Liverpool City Council’s Freedom Roll of Association, after 60 years of building the future – and preserving the history – of our home city.

 

Curtins have been proposed for the city’s highest honour for businesses by Mayor Joe Anderson, Lord Mayor Anna Rothery and Chief Exec of Liverpool Council, Tony Reeves.

 

This acknowledgement of Curtins’ contributions to the city comes in our 60th Anniversary year. Today, we operate from 14 locations throughout the UK and Ireland with nearly 450 employees. Looking back to 1960, it all started from the spare room in the Aigburth home of our founder, Bill Curtin.

 

Our conservation work saving Albert Dock in 1982 proved the catalyst for much of Liverpool’s regeneration projects that we have worked on since, including the Festival Gardens site in the 1980s. That’s a project we’re bookending right now, redeveloping the brownfield site to provide 1,500 new homes for the people of Liverpool.

 

Curtins’ Liverpool Director Andy Macfarlane says: “Liverpool has been good to us over 60 years, and it is a privilege to be able to create and preserve the city’s unrivalled skyline. From the full-circle Festival Gardens site to Paddington Village and the Knowledge Quarter, we continue working for the benefit of our employees and our local community. To this day we are proud to call Liverpool our home, maintaining our Headquarters on Tithebarn Street, in the heart of the city’s business district.”

 

Curtins CEO Rob Melling says: “I am incredibly proud to have our business recognised in this way. Our founder, Bill Curtin, believed in nurturing talent, creating opportunity, striving for inclusion and rewarding hard work. Those values still run strong in Curtins today. Our approach to guiding individuals to their full potential throughout their career – as part of our Apprenticeship scheme, our Graduate Academy and our Step Ahead Management Programme has led us to 28th place in the Sunday Times Top 100 companies to work for this year. We pledge to continue what Bill began into the next 60 years, and beyond.”

 

CEO of Liverpool City Council congratulated Curtins on the nomination, saying: “This is the highest accolade the city can bestow on an organisation and is a fitting tribute to Curtins.”

 

 

The honour will be formalised during the next Council meeting and followed by a ceremonial inscribing of our name in the Council Chambers, which will sit alongside organisations such as Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Tate Merseyside and the Hillsborough Families.

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Curtins storm up the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies List

Date: 21st February 2020

Curtins storm up the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies List

Coming in at Number 28, Curtins jumped 13 places in the Sunday Times Top 100 companies to work for at a glamorous ceremony in London’s Battersea Evolution last night.

This is the fifth year Curtins have been recognised in the list, seen as one of the most prestigious compilations of businesses in the UK from across all industries in medium and large size categories.

The List recognises businesses that go above and beyond to engage with their staff and provide an employee experience that has them at the centre.

From company holiday lodges available to all staff to use free of charge, to birthday holidays, to a comprehensive learning and development programme to mental health first aiders in each offices, Curtins has proved once again that it is among the best places to work.

Rob Melling, CEO comments: “I am just as proud today as I was when we first entered the list in 2015. This is an incredible achievement and one we should each share in at Curtins. Employee engagement is not something that is ever done, you don’t ‘tick the box’. It is constantly evolving and I am committed to continuing the work in maintaining the unique culture at Curtins, where each employee matters.”