Work to demolish The Old Nurses Home at Leeds General Infirmary enters a new phase
16 June 2021
Work to demolish parts of the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) site, to clear the way for two new state-of-the-art hospitals in the heart of the city, has entered a new specialist phase.
Demolition of the building, known locally as ‘The Old Nurses Home' on Calverley Street, began late last year. Sarah Woffenden, an Associate at Arcadis (UK) Limited, the company who are managing the demolition work at LGI, said demolishing large sections of a working hospital, in the middle of a busy city centre, has taken a great deal of careful planning and preparation.
“We’ve worked closely with DSM Demolition, the company tasked with carrying out the work, the team of consultants and contractors, together with teams from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT), to ensure that this complex project is completed with the absolute minimum level of disruption to everyday life at the hospital,” she said.
“Before we could even begin moving equipment onto the site, we had to start work on decommissioning and replacing the service tunnels that run beneath the site. These tunnels, which contain essential services such as power cables and steam tubes, are more than 100 years old and they are so extensive that someone can walk underground right across the LGI site, and all the way to Millennium Square.”
“To ensure continuity of services to the rest of the hospital, valves were put into key junctions, allowing the services to be isolated and diverted from the service tunnels. The major services diversion works will support the enabling of the construction of the new hospitals, which are due to be completed in 2025.”
This latest phase of the demolition sees the project switch from ‘soft strip’ to a De-build phase where demolition will be completed piece by piece, due to the building’s proximity to the LGI’s fully functioning Jubilee Wing. This will then be followed by later phases of mechanical demolition using larger demolition plant.
Sarah Woffenden added: “The Jubilee Wing is a live part of the hospital, with patients and operating theatres. It’s always been our aim to bring down those areas scheduled for demolition with the minimum of disruption, and mechanical demolition isn’t appropriate for this part of the project.”
As a result DSM Demolition have now begun a De-Build on the site, which in effect means they are taking the building down piece by piece, either by hand or with smaller, lighter remote-controlled machines, which have on board noise sensors and spray water over the areas they work on to reduce dust levels. In addition to this, sensors have been installed both external and internally within Jubilee Wing that monitor live the levels of noise, dust and vibration.
“Despite the challenges, this has been a really rewarding project to work on,” said Sarah. “The Trust has a such a positive approach, and the caring ethos of the NHS is evident throughout the organisation. They rally together to solve problems, and every single team have worked collegiately to make things happen. We simply wouldn’t be able to do any of this without them.”
Mike Bacon, Programme Director for the Building the Leeds Way (BtLW) Programme for LTHT, said: “Patient and staff welfare has always been of the highest importance in the delivery of this complex enabling works project, and so all the good work Arcadis and DSM have done, alongside other specialist advisers, site contractors, the Trust’s Estates Team and other colleagues from across the Trust, in minimising disruption from the demolition, has been greatly appreciated.
“We’re also very proud that between 95% to 99% of the old building will be recycled, with brickwork crushed and used for hardcore in the construction industry, and metals recovered from the site being weighed in and melted down for reuse.
“Building the Leeds Way is our long-term vision to transform healthcare facilities across Leeds Teaching Hospitals for our patients and staff, and with the demolition phase on track we feel that we’ve had a really great start.”