Community Engagement: Eiffage Kier lay the ground for Lindengate

Three sunny days in April saw a small volunteering team from EK, Soil Engineering and Blackwell volunteering for the Lindengate mental health charity in Wendover. The team provided materials, plant and manual labour to turn a muddy and unusable area into a safe and disability friendly pathway and hard standing area.
Lindengate is a Buckinghamshire-based registered charity that offers specialised gardening activities to help those with mental health needs in their continuing recovery. Its close location to the trace has led to continued involvement with Eiffage Kier’s community engagement team, whose aims include supporting the local community with the JV’s specialist knowledge and resources wherever possible.
The project was managed by graduate civil engineers Elliot Bright and Lewis Garland, and in total over 20 volunteers attended across the three days. The area they transformed was previously a waste area, where there is now a wheelchair accessible area of hard standing with low-lying planters and plans for a timber-framed shed for cover.
Blackwell excavated and levelled the area to 200mm depth, before installing a geotex membrane, 100mm of type 2 aggregate (compacted using forward/reverse vibrating plate), 60mm of sharp sand (also compacted) and then a 40mm depth ecodeck, finished by adding gravel as a surfacing layer to fill any gaps in the ecodeck.
The area was approximately 104m^2 in size, so Blackwell’s estimated they would typically charge around £2200 for the plant, labour and supervision, all of which were provided free of charge. Soil Engineering supplied GS6 and track matting, and also arranged crowd barriers, borrowed from a local materials depot.
A project of this size, including labour, is estimated to cost between £10000 and £15000 so as well as saving the charity a great deal of money they have also now been left with a high-quality area of hardstanding that will get used for many years to come. There are now intentions for a timber structure to be erected to provide a sheltered area, and Lindengate has invited Lewis and Elliot back in the summer to see the structure once it’s been assembled and the area is in use.
Eiffage Kier's approach to community engagement is centred on being a good neighbour, which will be achieved by engaging with communities along the route.and keeping them informed and involved by exploring what is important to them during both design and construction phases. Building strong relationships with communities by talking and listening to them on a regular basis will be fundamental to being a good neighbour. We recognise that across the communities, their fear levels are high and their trust levels towards both the Client and the Contractors are low. We aim to rebalance this by gaining the trust of our communities by listening to their concerns and making changes where reasonably practicable. Ultimately, Eiffage Kier aims to minimise impact on the people and on the environment during the construction of the railway.