Meet the Finalists

2022 | Residential & Accommodation

John O’Neill MCIOB
DrewSmith

August Fields, Newhaven: construction of 85 houses, completed in 83 weeks. 

Client: Guinness Partnerships 

Contract: Client 

Value: £19m 

About the Project

August Fields, Newhaven

Given its location, this large brownfield site would ordinarily have been snapped up long before for housing development. But there was, of course, some very good reasons for the opportunity going unseized until John O’Neill came along to build an 85-house estate on the site. 

Those reasons were asbestos in the ground, fly tipping, theft and vandalism, high-voltage overhead cables, endangered trees, newts and bats, and demanding neighbours. John dealt with them all – as well as a high-pressure gas main not identified on drawings – through well-organised management and collaborative teamwork.  

Nothing, though, quite matched the site’s stupendous topography challenge. With level differences of 27 metres front to back and 12 metres side to side, the site demanded extensive earthwork exercises. Stepped footings had to be built across most of the site. A vast array of retaining walls of every design type – everything from mass-fill concrete, to block, and block and brick mass-fill cavities – were also required just to get to a point where the team could actually start to build safely.  

John needed every scrap of his two decades of construction experience to get the enabling works right. He then moved on to a much more traditional superstructure approach. From the first spadeful to the handover of keys to the 85th purchaser, he triumphed through knowhow and good management. 

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