Morgan Sindall Construction has secured a pre-contract services agreement (PCSA) to oversee and enable the safe excavation and removal of over 2,000 burials at the site of the former Strand Union Workhouse in Fitzrovia.
The project for Middlesex Annexe LLP, a subsidiary of the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Charity, is part of The Bedford Passage Development, which falls within the Charlotte Street Conservation Area and is part of the Fitzrovia Area Action Plan.
The scheme will see 40% of the existing buildings retained, including the Grade II listed workhouse, built in 1775. As part of the wider development plan, Morgan Sindall Construction is due to deliver a new mixed-use development consisting of commercial, healthcare and residential space behind the workhouse. The eight-storey building will have 34 flats as well as 5,000 sq ft of commercial space and healthcare facilities including an MRI imaging suite with six new MRI scanners in the basement.
Under the first phase of work on the development, Morgan Sindall Construction is delivering the enabling works at the site. This includes helping archaeologists excavate and remove thousands of bodies buried at the site, linked to its historic use as a local cemetery and workhouse.
Led by Morgan Sindall Construction senior project manager James Kidgell, the enabling works package involves a complex phasing of temporary and permanent works to enable the archaeologists to access their work areas while excavating to depths of approximately four and a half metres, predominantly by hand.
In total, an estimated 7,000 cubic metres of soil will be excavated, separated and then reviewed for bone fragments with an estimated duration of between 12 and 18 months for all the works.
During these works, three other buildings at the front of the site will be refurbished by another contractor, making collaboration and effective coordination fundamental to the success of both projects.
Richard Dobson, area director for Morgan Sindall Construction’s London office, said: “This is a fascinating project in an area of London that has huge cultural resonance on a global scale and it’s our privilege to be working alongside the expert archaeological team to enable the safe excavation and removal of these precious remains.
“This is a delicate and complex operation that will be delivered while works on a number of live projects around the site continue at pace. This requires expert coordination, cross-party collaboration and the experience of working effectively with minimum disruption on major schemes on logistically challenging, tight, urban sites.
“This is a challenge our team has the experience and expertise to deliver upon and we look forward to enabling our colleagues to safely secure the historic legacy of the site, while work on the development continues to schedule.”
The excavation works are due to start in January 2020. Once the enabling works are completed, works to the main building are expected to start in 2021.