100 tonnes of steel prepared and delivered to site as construction starts on huge new hi-tech tomato and cucumber packhouse

CambridgeHOK is constructing a huge new packhouse in a £5m project which will see a hi-tech facility built able to package and store millions of tomatoes and cucumbers per year.

As part of the project, CambridgeHOK was tasked with designing and building the facility in Ely, Cambridgeshire, including foundations and civils, structural steelwork, external cladding, cold store panelling and the mechanical and electrical systems.

The client, Fenland Glasshouse Limited, is a company owned by funds managed by Schroders Greencoat LLP.

100 tonnes of steel, including trellis beams up to 16m long, were prepared by CambridgeHOK over a three month period and delivered to site.

That work included 1,136 welded assemblies, and the need for steelwork to be sent to a specialist galvanisers with a 21m long bath, such is the length of steel used, making it the largest Venlo style building ever manufactured at CambridgeHOK’s East Yorkshire factory.

The 3,600m2 packhouse is to be constructed ready for the first of the 2023 crop to be processed in March.

Business beat off competition from overseas to win contract

Fenland is the latest glasshouse project to be built using funds managed by Schroders Greencoat LLP. It is one of the largest ever constructed in the UK with a footprint of over 22 hectares, and one of the most advanced, using LED lighting to accelerate growth whilst warming the structure using water-source heat pumps.

Louis Bradley, joint managing director of CambridgeHOK, said: “We were of course extremely pleased to secure this project from a true leader in energy efficient glasshouse production, and ahead of competition from Dutch builders.

“This site grows tomatoes and cucumbers for UK consumers in high-tech greenhouses using sustainable energy and the new packhouse will house the latest packing technology, allowing thousands of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers to reach the shelves of British supermarkets each day, and throughout the year.

“This project is a great fit us as it allows all of the disciplines within the company to be involved in contributing to the true turnkey delivery.”

Steelwork production was unique given challenges brought by size

Production of the steelwork was overseen by CambridgeHOK’s factory manager Simon Goff.

He said: ““This has been a unique project for us to design and project manage given the sheer size and weight of some of the steel involved.

“We had to complete the steelwork and transport it for galvanising in three stages, each time then delivering to site. We are talking huge pieces of steel, with a roof truss 16 metres long and a building standing nine metres high.

“It has been a great project to oversee personally and its now over to our construction team to build over the coming months. After all the hard work in the factory it will be great to see the structure now begin take place.”

CambridgeHOK has a Certificate of Factory Production Control (FPC), issued by the Steel Construction Certification Scheme, which confirms it is qualified to produce ‘load bearing and welded structural steel components up to EXC 3’ – in accordance with BS EN 1090-2-2018 and the UK Designated Standard BS EN 1090 - 1:2009+A1:2011.

Each part welded and manufactured is 100% traceable throughout its entire lifecycle, providing quality assurance for clients.

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