A scheme to develop the RNLI Headquarters at Poole into a modern life boat manufacturing facility will secure the charity’s lifeboat building supply chain for the next 30 years. The All-weather Lifeboat Centre (ALC) is a production facility of approximately 5,000m2 with 7,000m2 of open areas, quay spaces and good land access for low loaders.
Ramboll provided all engineering services for the scheme, with architectural design being carried out by Ellis Belk Associates, and the main contractor was J.B. Leadbitter & Co Ltd.
The first phase of construction, executed by BAM Nuttall, involved replacing quay walls and raising site levels to future proof the site against flooding. This included provision of a new quay wall incorporating new lighting and boat charging facilities to the apron.
This was followed by the construction of the two manufacturing buildings, each of these consist of large clear span boat-halls, workshop areas and offices. The courtyard between the two buildings is joined by a high level canopy to give a flexible external workspace with protection from inclement weather.
The second floor level of each building will provide office areas as well as a canteen for building users. In addition a Visitor Experience area is located at one end of each of the boat halls with interactive displays and a view into the boat halls.
Environmental considerations for planning submission
Ramboll provided environmental services to the RNLI throughout the pre-planning and construction stage. We provided a series of technical environmental reports to support the planning application and also ensured that all other consents were in place, such as a marine licence from the Marine Management Organisation, a licence from Poole Harbour Commissioners and environmental permits from the Environment Agency. Ramboll provided technical advice on ground contamination, water quality, air quality, flood risk, drainage, ecology, noise assessment and archaeological services.
Future proofing for changes to production processes
The buildings have been specifically designed to give maximum flexibility in working arrangements to suit future changes in production process for years to come. They have been fitted out to enable lifeboat manufacturing using the latest composite boat building technologies and also the application of lean production principles.
The new facility will allow manufacture of six Shannon-class composite all-weather lifeboats per year from hull construction to engine and system fit-out. A dedicated area of the facility will also deal with the re-fit of some 125 all-weather lifeboats per year. It includes some impressive features such as three spray booths used to apply primer, coats of paint and antifoul to the lifeboats, moveable platforms which will improve ergonomics and efficiency for accessing fit-out and refit.
Electrical services are distributed throughout both buildings with high level plug in busbar run at high level at ground and first floor levels. The hull/deck production facility is mechanically ventilated to minimise the level of particulates in the environment.
Design of ground improvements
The new facility is partly located on very soft inter-tidal silt deposits and recently reclaimed ground that could cause damage to the new facility if not addressed in the design. Ramboll’s ground engineers developed a treatment strategy, in collaboration with BAM Nuttall, comprising in-situ drainage and site surcharge, and vibrated concrete columns in the ground to support the new buildings and boat construction pads.
Ramboll’s Geomatic survey team has been involved in different stages of the project at RNLI Coventina including:
- Verification of finish concrete floor levels
- Post construction check on the crane rail to ensure compliance with the crane manufactures gantry rail tolerances
- The drainage network on site.