Dickens Estate, Southwark

Contract Type:  Residential Refurbishment

Client:  Southwark Council

Value:  £16,000,000

Duration:  2 years

Southwark Council appointed Lawtech as Principal Contractor to roll out an Energy Efficiency programme across six residential sites borough-wide.  We secured £16 million of British Gas ECO funding for the scheme which encompassed some 1200 dwellings in over 40 multi-tenure low and high-rise blocks.

The Scope of Works included:

  • 60,000m2 Alsecco External Wall Insulation (EWI)
  • 5,039 InstaBead Cavity Wall Insulations (CWI)
  • 21,000m2 of energy efficient flat roofing works
  • A-rated replacement glazing units to 1,000 homes

We refurbished a disused doctor’s surgery at the estate for use as our main Site Office which we redeveloped as two ‘hidden homes’ for the client at the end of the contract.

Lawtech’s own experienced workforce completed the EWI, CWI and glazing, with InstaBead installed by our own CIGA and BBA-approved team.  The project achieved a U-Value of 0.3W/(m2K) and refreshed the estate aesthetically.

The glazing replacement Programme ran smoothly, with 7535 windows installed to 685 properties at the Four Squares site alone, averaging 35 properties per week.

We developed dynamic and collaborative partnerships with local specialist contractors for the installation of the new insulated flat roofs.

The success of the project depended upon a detailed rolling programme of planning applications, energy assessments and installations.  Lawtech maintained close contact with all key stakeholders.  Our Design & Quality, Health, Safety and Environmental, Technical, Commercial , Energy and Project Management teams liaised with the client’s consultant surveyors, investment team and local Planning Office and Building Control to ensure transparency at all times and at all levels.


Access into the Four Squares area was particularly restrictive, approached via narrow, winding routes.  Lawtech therefore:

  • programmed all deliveries with appropriate vehicle sizes and designated drop-off points
  • allocated labour to load/unload promptly
  • operated just-in-time’ call-off of materials to minimise stock on site
  • segregated waste for recycling/disposal daily to keep the site clear (achieving an 88% recycled rate)

Our site-based Resident Liaison Officers noted some key issues at Four Squares:

  • English is not the first language of many residents and a number were identified as vulnerable
  • the local Tenants Association is well-organised and members were very keen to engage with us over site management issues
  • residents preferred to raise their queries within the Tenants Association forum

In response, Lawtech extended the range of our RLO services and took additional steps to mitigate disruption:

  • we extended the range of translated material beyond the standard information guides to include the majority of correspondence and signage
  • the Four Squares RLO increased attendance at Tenants Association meetings and coffee mornings
  • although the works were external only, we provided a comfortable, well-equipped respite facility for residents whose properties were affected by noise or vibration
  • we implemented landline numbers for our 24/7 Customer Care and Emergency hotlines in place of the mobile response that had been hampered by poor reception in the densely developed area
  • CWI was carried out using abseiling equipment, eliminating the noise and inconvenience that scaffolding would otherwise have created and negating the danger of unauthorised use of access equipment

Resident Satisfaction scores rose significantly as a result, exceeding 96% for the remainder of the contract.

Many of the 1930s-built blocks were in a poor state of repair.  Lawtech’s Site Survey identified issues that could potentially delay our Programme, giving us the opportunity to ‘design out’ the risk.  For example, the roofing system had to be installed in anticipation of the subsequent addition of Solar PV panels, but PV fixing brackets are designed to be installed prior to roof coverings.  We therefore designed in the ability to seal and waterproof the system around the brackets retrospectively.  This bespoke detailing was approved by the roofing manufacturer, IKO.


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