Halton Mills Redevelopment, Lancaster

The 2.5ha development site which forms part of a wider master plan to regenerate a redundant industrial site sits adjacent to the medieval village of Halton on the banks of the River Lune. SETS were commissioned by the client to carry out a ground investigation on part of the site which was previously un investigated and carry out a Preliminary Risk Assessment (PRA) for the whole of the site, taking into account all available data including numerous previous ground investigations carried out at the site between 2003 and 2004.

The ground investigation was completed by Soil Engineering and comprised the formation of rotary cored boreholes, window sampler holes, dynamic probe holes and trial pits. A desk top study and walk over survey was carried out by SETS as part of the PRA.

Early records showed the site was undeveloped farm land; eventually giving way to textile mills when the power of the River Lune was harnessed by a mill race to power Halton Mills; a substantial complex that survived for over 2 centuries. Mill usage changed when necessary between cotton, flax, leather, oilcloths and coconut matting, until in the 1950’s it was demolished, making way for small scale chemical and engineering works including the manufacturing of bitumen based floor coverings. The site eventually became redundant in 1988.

The report produced by SETS included the factual and interpretative elements as required by the client as well as information on the environmental quality of the soil and groundwater in the form of an assessment of the environmental hazards at the site and the level of risk posed by these hazards to human health, structure, vegetation and the aquatic environment.

The PRA produced by SETS zoned the site based on the different land uses within the proposed development plan to reflect the different changes in the level of risk to human health; the land uses on site consisted of residential with and without gardens, communal gardens and soft landscaping. It was concluded that some areas of the site required further investigation due to the elevated levels of hydrocarbon and heavy metal contamination, that some areas of site had potential to generate ground gas such as the in filled reservoir and mill pond areas and that there may be risks to the river Lune and its salmon population due to elevated levels of mercury and hydrocarbons identified at shallow depths in the groundwater. The overall risk from the site to human health and the environment was assessed to be moderate and SETS made recommendations for additional investigation and remediation strategies.

The development is well underway and has been designed with a contemporary but contextual approach. Vernacular forms and a combination of tradition and contemporary materials have been used to create a modern style which fits comfortably with in the once again rural riverside setting of the former Halton Mills site.

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