Located in the centre of historic Thetford, this site was earmarked for redevelopment to replace and revive the bus station located on Bridge Street with a new leisure complex comprising a three screen cinema, range of restaurant/retail units with a 62 bedroom hotel above. We were appointed from inception to provide engineering concept design and Flood Risk Assessment services to support the planning application and representing the team at Council Cabinet meetings. We continued through the two stage design and build tender stage, fulfilling relevant planning conditions and providing detailed civil and structural engineering services during construction stage.
The site presented a number of challenges, not least that part of the development fronting the river wall is a Scheduled Ancient Monument requiring detailed and careful liaison with English Heritage and the County Archaeologist throughout the development and investigation stages. This was all the more sensitive as the site is within Flood Zone 2 and this area of the site was required to be lowered in level to compensate for the new development footprint, established by our flood modelling.
The differing uses results in notably varied structural requirements. The three storey hotel has a cellular form and is constructed in lightweight, modular construction. The retail units underneath however, require open-plan layouts and consequently a different structure of reinforced concrete with a first floor concrete transfer slab is provided. The three cinema screens are located at first floor, with large span clear openings formed by a structural steel frame, again constructed off the transfer slab.
The planning requirements for a roof-scape that echoes the site’s warehouse history and is consequently particularly elaborate over the cinema. This was achieved with an intricate steel frame. Our team used a carefully coordinated 3D drafting model which integrated with the Architect’s model to ease the construction stage process.
The brief was an amalgamation of two separate tenants’ requirements documents and council aspirations and the resulting scheme was under significant financial pressure due to the public funding.