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Thinking of a new garden centre building? Think CambridgeHOK

The 5,800m2 Percy Thrower Garden Centre that CambridgeHOK were contracted to build. Photo: CambridgeHOK.

Constructing a new garden centre retail building or upgrading an existing one is a major capital investment for any garden centre, ensuring it is done right, and on-time, is imperative to the success of the business.



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19 December 2018

In today’s competitive retail industry, first impressions count. As consumers we are ever more sophisticated. We demand the highest standards. We want warm and welcoming surroundings. We want a modern, bright and comfortable environment with impeccable amenities.

We want inspired thinking, meticulous planning and faultless construction. All together it’s a tall order, but it’s one that CambridgeHOK have proven to deliver time and time again.

Working closely alongside customers and architects enables them to achieve the optimal retail environment by combining an aesthetically pleasing design with a practical and affordable structure.

CambridgeHOK have the in-house skills to turn a greenfield site into a new garden centre. Their in-house specialists consist of groundworks and civils engineers and contractors, structural designers, and builders, in addition to heating and electrical designers and installers.

There is no need to engage a multitude of contractors, CambridgeHOK have the knowledge and resources to deliver your complete project.

All CambridgeHOK retail buildings, be they portal frame, Venlo, traditional widespan or curved roof, will be manufactured and constructed in full accordance with Building Regulations.

Retail Building are a Different Class of Building

Retail buildings are steel frame structures, however they must include a composite panel which ensures a higher thermal efficiency, thus ensuring it meets building control regulations.  CambridgeHOK offer a complete design and build service, including civils and planning permission assistance, turnkey or part build contracts whilst meeting any budgetary requirements. They can also re-clad a client’s existing building by re-cladding an old glasshouse you can transfrom it into a retail building.

These thermally compliant envelopes are finished to suit the client’s demands and project goals. Previous project have varied from a recycled PVC timber look cladding finish at Bell Plantation which is environmentally friendly, to a complete glazed wall external finish at Belton Garden Centre.

Case Study: Percy Thrower

In April 2014 CambridgeHOK were contracted by Speller Metcalfe to build a 5,800m2 garden centre building in Shrewsbury. The Garden Centre was being built to replace the existing Percy Thrower garden centre on the site and on completion took the name of the famous TV gardener.

The building is a single storey portal frame building clad in Kingspan composite panels of multiple types and configurations. CambridgeHOK’s package of works included the steel structure, cladding, curtain walling, mechanical and electrical fit-out, emergency exit doors, bi-parting automatic doors and roller shutter doors.


A Priva building management system was also installed to provide autonomous control of the heating, lighting, ventilation and fire systems. The groundworks and landscaping where carried out by a separate subcontractor and interfacing effectively with them was integral to the successful completion of the project.

In total the project ran for 6 months and at its peak 35 people were employed of varying trades that were managed by a CambridgeHOK IOSH qualified site manager. Health and safety was paramount to the project and was managed by the in-house NEBOSH qualified health and safety manager.

All parts of the project were subject to task specific method statements and risk assessments which were communicated to all site staff and enforced by the site manager. Regular visits to site were carried out by the health and safety manager to ensure that CambridgeHOK safety standards were being maintained.

It is CambridgeHOK’s policy to always protect the health and safety of employees. One of the biggest risks on site is working at height. This project entailed a large area of roof cladding and to ensure it could be carried out safely a FASET certified netting and handrail contractor was used to create a safe working environment for the cladding operatives

At tender stage CambrudgeHOK were provided with an architect’s indicative design and an outline specification from the clients M&E consultant. With regular design development meetings with the client CambridgeHOK took this outline information and developed it into a detailed design the met the requirements of the end user.

This was the first time in their business history that they carried out the design of the building using the Tekla design package which has since become an integral part of their business. By modelling the entire structure of the building in 3D everybody can be sure that all parts will fit together on-site and fabrication drawings are produced automatically. Additionally the 3D model is an excellent reference tool for the erection team on site to assist in assembly of the building.

Percy Thrower Garden Centre was the first project to fall under the new CE regulations for structural steelwork across Europe. Due to the eventual use by the general public this meant that the building was classified at the highest level of class 3.

This added additional complication to the project as 20% of the weekly output of steelwork had to have non-destructive testing carried out on the welds. This was in the form of magnetic particle inspection. All welders on the project had to be CE certified and the audit trail on every piece of steelwork from supplier to site had to be in place before the CE certificate (declaration of conformance) for the finished building could be issued.

A year later, CambridgeHOK successfully passed their first CE audit with flying colours. In total 160 tonnes of hot and cold rolled steelwork were fabricated in their factory and delivered to site.

The architectural specification required among other things that the building was air tested. This meant that consideration had to be given air tightness at the design and construction stage. All panel joints, flashings and trims were sealed with butyl sealant. The air test was carried out and the building passed on first attempt.

Another requirement was that all cladding elements of the job were inspected by an independent Kingspan approved inspector. The contractor carrying out the inspection certified that the installation was carried out to an excellent standard

The completed garden centre was opened in March 2015 and combines a traditional retail outlet with an interactive gardening experience to help customers make the most of their gardens. In addition to garden and DIY supplies the centre also features two food and drink areas and several franchise stores

The project was completed on time and is an example of the versatility of CambridgeHOK and their commitment to delivering a high quality project at all costs.

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