Build June (2016)

Build Magazine 57 Real Estate Faced with either: a dense network of services cables; a warren of underground high-speed train tunnels; a steady stream of traffic; and airport health and safety regulations - or a site of highly-contaminated ground; an expansive concrete dry dock; and the risk of outing the power at internationally-acclaimed pop musicians’ concerts - neither site sounds an obvious or easy target for constructing premi- um properties. Nonetheless, these are just two examples of the sites where Arora Group has succeeded in end-to-end delivery, with Grove Developments executing the construction; the Sofitel-T5 hotel, directly connected to Terminal 5 at London Heathrow, and the InterContinental London – The O2 and residential Arora Tower, connected to the O2 arena, Greenwich. Both of these, I’m delighted to say, have been great successes, of which we are immensely proud. At Grove Development, we specialise in com- mercial, residential and hospitality construc- tion projects, as a division of the Arora Group. The Group is a UK-focused private group of companies, which also includes specialist property and hotel divisions, with a diverse portfolio of flagship commercial and residential assets across the nation’s key business locations. Since our inception as Grove Developments in 2011 (formerly Arora Developments), we’ve worked on over 32 projects, and as you can imagine, like any construction firm, we’ve faced our fair share of obstacles along the way. As Director at Grove, I’ve worked through highs and lows, and am delighted with our progress to date. Facing up to the challenges of construction is all about: understanding the needs of the end-user, and those that you’re working with; drawing learnings from previous and ongoing projects to improve future work; and ensuring ongoing collaboration and team-work to boost the team’s sense-of purpose and increase efficiency. As one of the key property managers and hotel operators in the Heathrow region, and with experience in other airports such as Gatwick and Aberdeen, we are well-versed in the challenges faced when building on or near an airport. Crucially, this requires close-partnership with the airport operator, considering our impact on multiple teams involved - in air traffic control, roads, and services for example - which each entail important regulations and processes. Another consideration is the navigation of the many services and existing media under the construction site. Airport areas are incredibly dense, with a mass of people reliant on these services – and a construction group arrives to ‘put a big hole in the ground’. Similarly, we need to work around the transport infrastructure, in terms of roads, tube and high-speed rail lines running to airports. Increasingly, I have also become aware of how important it is to do the above with consideration of how the construction appears to current passengers, who may also be potential hotel guests. Ultimately, in these sorts of challenging sites, the more expertise you develop, the better you are positioned to offer excellence. You learn how best to adapt your project whilst keeping to the remit - for instance through shifting working hours or building dimensions. You also become more aware of opportunities – for example, the constant regeneration of airports means there is a large pool of expert workers in the area. It is also important to work with trusted partners and to share knowledge where possible; for Grove Development, we value Arora Group’s property and management teams’ insights on end-user needs – in this case, the hotel guests and broader airport stakeholders. Interestingly, we find that even when building in entirely different environ- ments, we face similar challenges – and it is vital to leverage this experience to succeed. So, as with building near airport terminals, when constructing the Inter- Continental London – The O2, we faced a complex underground environment, and the need to work collaboratively with other stakeholders. Building expertise in challenging environments By Sinead Hughes, Director, Grove Developments (Arora Group).