London & South East

John Sisk & Son delivers first class Royal Mail project

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Leading main contractor John Sisk & Son has completed an exciting project that will revolutionise the way that mail is processed in the South East.

The new Medway Mail Centre in Strood will handle up to 3.2 million items of mail a night and serve as the only mail centre in Kent once processing work transfers from the Canterbury, Dartford, Maidstone and Tonbridge mail centres.

Once the centre becomes fully operational in the autumn of 2012, 850 staff will sort mail posted to and from addresses in the CT, DA, ME and TN postcode areas.

Commenting on the new Medway Mail Centre, MP Mark Reckless said:

“This is an exciting project which could provide a real boost to the local economy. The location of the new centre on formerly developed but currently unused land is a significant step forward in the wider regeneration of Strood, and I welcome Royal Mail’s decision to locate their sorting hub here in Medway.

“Once again Medway is showing that it is open for business and has the infrastructure to attract large-scale investment into the towns. I offer my congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen.”

Comprising approximately 15,500 square metres, the development contains a three-storey block for admin and associated activities and a large single-storey processing facility.

Watson Batty Architects Limited selected different colours for the horizontal and vertical cladding, whilst the building also celebrates a distinctive polished block work entrance feature. Interestingly, as the building is built into a hillside the staff access the building via a bridge that takes them onto the first floor, where they can either go down to the operational floor or go up to the canteen and welfare area.

Facilities include a large staff restaurant with formal and informal seating, along with a recreation area and a staff roof terrace. There are also a number of ‘team pods’, which have small lecture theatres where staff briefings can take place.

In the processing facility, six new intelligent letter sorting machines will sort mail into batches that can be sequenced into exact walk order to save postmen and women time when preparing to go out on their rounds. At full speed, the machines can sort up to 45,000 items an hour. In addition, there will be five machines for cancelling stamped mail and one flat sorting machine for A4-sized mail.

The centre has achieved BREEAM ‘Very Good’ and celebrates a number of sustainable features that will help Royal Mail to reduce its carbon footprint. These include provisions for natural daylight, a solar wall to deliver preheated air into the heating systems, an energy efficient biomass boiler and solar panels in the roof for domestic water usage.

Landscaping has included terraced areas and external areas for vehicle parking and maneuvering.

Paul Ryan, Watson Batty Architects Limited, said:

“This is one of a new generation of mail centres that have been designed across the country for Royal Mail and is arguably the most advanced.

“As with all buildings on a Brownfield site, some challenges did arise. The existing concrete floor had been left in, so we dug it up, crushed it and reused it. The site is also between two railway lines, so we had to liaise with Network Rail throughout the project and form a new entrance into the site for HGVs.

“However, the project progressed well and finished on time and within budget. I would like to extend my thanks to our client Royal Mail, who we have enjoyed a strong working relationship with for almost twenty years.”

Watson Batty Architects Limited

Watson Batty Architects Limited was established in 1976 and now boasts a 50-strong workforce who undertake work nationally across most sectors and with a wide range of clients.

The award-winning company provides an extensive range of services including 3D graphics, interior design, sustainability, CDM and health & safety services.

Watson Batty Architects Limited adds value to every project by taking the time to understand their clients and striving to meet their every need.

For more information on Watson Batty Architects Limited, visit www.watsonbatty.com.

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