February 2019
July 2020
Balfour Beatty Living Places
Earley, Reading
VGC contract value
retaining wall being built

We are constructing a new park and ride facility to ease congestion in Reading town centre.

The site, between the railway and the river Thames, was an unwanted corner of waste ground. Challenges on the project included restricted access between the river and the railway, a high pressure gas pipe, buried 132KV cables, and overhead electrified lines spanning the area.


The project includes earthworks, reinforced concrete structures, drainage, lighting, surfacing and the access road for the new car park.

  • attenuation tank Thames Valley park and ride
    Attenuation tank 25m long x 2m wide: built using trench boxes instead of trench sheets and frames

    Site set-up, including traffic management, vegetation and site clearance

  • Drainage installations: three attenuation tanks, 12 inspection chambers and associated gullies
  • Construction of 133m cantilever retaining wall 6m high
  • Construction of access road (capping, sub base, kerbs and asphalt)
  • 255 space car park construction (BOD PAV85 system)
  • 1,200m ducting for charging points and other street furniture

We needed to level the widely varied ground terrain. Based on a cut and fill survey, we reused excavated material as fill behind the 133m retaining wall, creating the higher level car parking area. The cantilever retaining wall (which we have planted to become a ‘living wall’) allows for more parking places.

The drainage system includes three large underground attenuation tanks, installed using proprietary trench boxes and a specially designed temporary works system (trench sheets and frames). These are connected with a network of deep drainage pipes interspersed with 12 inspection chambers and two oil interceptor units.

As we near the end of the project, we are installing and commissioning street lighting, ticket machines, electrical vehicle charging points and CCTV. We will also install bicycle stands and bus shelters.

Our landscaping works have included seeding and planting appropriate trees.

Thames Valley park and ride living wall
The retaining wall has been planted up to become a ‘living wall’

‘We look after each other’

As well as regular toolbox talks, our HSQE team delivered training in wellbeing, modern slavery, and hand safety.

During a visit to the project, one of the Balfour Beatty managers had a heart attack. Graduate engineer Jack Davies, who had just completed a first aid course, and project manager Peter Bradley successfully administered first aid before paramedics arrived. They were highly commended for their life-saving actions in this year’s VGC staff awards.

Supporting young people into construction careers

Students Omar Miah and Ryan Waite visited the site as part of their summer internships for VGC. Omar commented: “Health and safety is emphasised a lot. Plant is used very carefully – there are strict guidelines and precautions that are put in place for safety reasons.”

About the project

The scheme will reduce the peak time congestion experienced on the A4 during the morning and evening rush hours. It is funded by Wokingham Borough Council and we are delivering on behalf of principal contractor Balfour Beatty. This project followed other successful projects for client Balfour Beatty Living Places, including the Bell Foundry Lane upgrade project.

These form part of four-year package which Wokingham borough council awarded to Balfour Beatty Living Places in January 2018.