Work finally began in mid-January, and Chartman director, Clive Sheppard, comments: "Obviously you expect some bad weather during the winter but for about three weeks we had continual heavy rain." The plan was to re-open on May 2, but with several days' work on site lost to flooding, and a two-day delay while soil contamination was analysed, the date has been revised back a week to May 9.
Clive describes the development as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and says the intention is to build a flagship site for Chartman which will provide a legacy for the company and a landmark on the A38 route into Devon and Cornwall.
The project involves replacing what was on the site with a 2,000sq ft shop, moving the forecourt and enhancing the HGV facilities and will include a bespoke canopy and striking timber-framed shop. Work began in late January with the existing site closing for business from March 3.
The site manager for Williams Southern Limited, John Carp, has been providing a weekly report on how work has progressed, detailed below, and for anyone involved in the forecourt sector it provides a fascinating insight into the issues involved, and the extra problems caused by the extreme weather this winter.
Week 2 (ending 7/2/14)
We are currently two or three days behind the projected programme dates due to the horrendous weather we are experiencing at present. This is not yet on the critical path but the situation is being monitored and recorded. The sales building footing has had to be re-excavated due to flooding. Building Control has carried out inspections of the excavation prior to pouring concrete. Work on the swale (a boggy area where the drainage will be built) is now at a standstill until the weather improves as progress there is impossible at present. Two trees by the existing LPG have blown over in the high winds. Bricklayers have been delayed on their jobs this week by the same weather that has affected us, and won't be on site until Tuesday or Wednesday next week.
Week 3 (ending 14/2/14)
We have lost two more full days' work plus another day reinstating the damage caused by the weather. The building was expected to commence on Monday. As you can see from the photos, we are a week away from that happening, if the weather relents and allows us to progress. No work has been carried out on the swale this week, as it is too waterlogged. We will need to re-strip the oversite prior to stoning up, after the water has been removed. As I leave now, the service station is experiencing a power cut so the pumps that are keeping the water level down are not working at all. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Week 4 (ending 21/2/14)
We lost half a day due to rain on Monday but since then we have had a better, and drier, week. The concrete for the sales building has been poured and the timber frame panels delivered ready for erection. Scaffold is currently being installed and is nearing completion. The retaining wall construction is being carried out and the attenuation tank is being installed. No work has been carried out on the swale. It has been decided to give it a few weeks to see if it will dry up. We cannot stockpile any more spoil in the area behind the LPG tank so we are now stockpiling behind the old Little Chef building. The timber frame building will be started next week and the site will be made ready for the shutdown in the week commencing 3/3/14.
Week 5 (ending 28/2/14)
We have made good progress this week. The sales building is starting to take shape. The timber frame walls are in place and the trusses to the roof are under way. The retaining wall construction has been completed ready for concrete fill and coping. No further work has been carried out on the swale. The fuel stocks have been run down and the site is being made ready for closedown on Monday. Next week will consist of de-commissioning the existing service station infrastructure and demolition of buildings ready for the new canopy, tanks and forecourt.
Week 6 (ending 7/3/14)
We have made good progress again this week. We are still four or five days behind the programme dates with the shop being the item affected the most. The shop roof cladding should be 50% complete by now, but we start on Monday. The situation is still being monitored and recorded. The site closedown has been completed. The fuel system has been made safe and is now completely removed. The sales building roof structure is complete and the Kingspan cladding starts to be fitted next week. Canopy deck installation will now start on Monday 17/3/14. Shoring for the new fuel tanks will commence towards the end of next week with the tanks being installed on Thursday 20/3/14 at present. No further work has been carried out on the swale.
Week 7 (ending 14/3/14)
Another fine week weather wise and progress has been okay. Soil sampling took four days instead of the two days expected, and a stockpile of contaminated soil has been removed and stored on site until results are obtained. The sales building roof is progressing well, and another week should see it completed. The canopy legs are in position and the canopy deck is due to commence on Monday. Shoring for the new tank excavation is progressing well and tanks are expected to be installed on Thursday 20/3/14 as programmed. The swale is still waterlogged and no further work has been carried out.
Week 8 (ending 21/3/14)
The site has progressed well this week with a lot of the bigger items installed or under way. The canopy deck steelwork and gutters are complete and the top sheets will be installed in the coming week. The tank farm has been excavated, tanks installed, surrounded and the shoring system removed. The roof to the sales building is now complete and scaffolding has been removed. Results from the soil sampling are expected this coming week and spoil will be removed once this is known. Fuel pipework and drainage are the main tasks that will be carried out on the forecourt next week. The swale is still waterlogged and no further work has been carried out.