Beckley Court Student Accommodation

Client: Kier Group

Location: Beckley Court, Plymouth

Project: Student accommodation - new build structure

Service: Access



In February 2015, Denholm Industrial Services (DIS) was approached by Kier Construction to provide a compliant bid for the common user external access package for a new build concrete frame student accommodation in Plymouth. 

On completion in September 2017, at 78m Beckley Court is the tallest building to be constructed in the south west region of the UK. In common with most city-centre high-rise construction projects, space is at a premium. Beckley Court is no exception - it is surrounded by existing buildings, is in one of Plymouth's main thoroughfares and is directly adjacent to the main pedestrian access route to the city's railway station. 


The Challenge

Although cost was a factor, Kier Construction was clear that the scheme was to be a quality bid utilising industry best practice. The scheme also had to successfully accommodate all trades with minimal adaptions and had to be able to be constructed in line with the build programme.



Denholm Industrial Service’s approach was to allocate a senior manager with many years' operational experience to produce a competitive and compliant bid and to ensure successful transition from the bid phase to the delivery team on site. Working closely with Richard Lyons and the team at Optima Scaffold Design based in Bristol, Denholm was able to provide a compliant design which provided for an eight board wide scaffold built over twenty-four 2.90m high lifts.  An additional five 2.10m high lifts were built to complete the pinnacle feature set above the building's top floor. Through the use of Readylock transoms supplied by Generation the 3,200m of scaffold was constructed without a single cross brace obstructing access when moving people and material around the scaffold. The team at Optima were also able to incorporate within the design the ability for the scaffold to support two 1500kg hoists as well as two sets of safety nets fans.

It became clear very early in the scheme's development that conventional fan protection was not viable due to the confined nature of the site. Where conventional fans would obstruct lifting operations, safety net fans can be withdrawn to the vertical and re-deployed to suit. Denholm installed two levels of safety net fans. Maxi net fans extended 4.60m and were installed at the second floor level. Standard width fans extended 3.00m and were used to separate the ongoing scaffold build from the previously completed scaffold.  The high level fans were raised progressively in line with the progress of the scaffold.

As part of the scheme development, Denholm constructed a mock-up of the actual scaffold proposal at Beckley Court. The scaffold was built at the local branch in Devonport and gave site supervisor Ross Couling and the scaffolders the opportunity to construct the scaffold scheme, provide feedback and ensure adherence to safe and efficient erection. This was then incorporated within the final method statement, with photographs used to detail each stage in sequence. The structure also provided an opportunity to practise safety net fan installation and fully assisted rescue procedures via the use of a 100kg mannequin complete with full PPE.

To accommodate the imposed load from the scaffold, Kier installed a 2.40m wide concrete plinth to the perimeter of the building, designed to cope with the 28kN leg loads. At the start of May 2016 Denholm was given the go-ahead to begin erection of the scaffold structure. To ensure continuity between the bid and delivery phases, the senior manager who put the bid together spent the first two weeks of the construction working closely on site with the Denholm delivery team. This provided Ross Couling and his team with a unique source of knowledge and experience to call upon.



At the start of September 2016 the construction stood at around 40m above street level. With no storage areas on site, deliveries arrived with slings already in place.  Material was then lifted directly to the workface with CPCS-trained Denholm operatives overseeing lifting operations.

The project was an opportunity for Denholm to work closely with the Kier project team with the combined goal of continuous improvement and has lead to a number of new safety initiatives.