North East Connected

Aycliffe firm works on 350-tonne extension at intu Metrocentre

Newton Aycliffe steel firm SCH Site Services has completed a 350-tonne project working on intu Metrocentre’s new Qube II extension.

SCH won a contract from Sir Robert McAlpine to install 215 tonnes of steel for the new development, as well as complex strengthening and roof light projects.

The project, at intu Metrocentre, is part of a £17million development to increase the variety of dining options available at the popular Gateshead shopping centre.

The new extension has added 11 new restaurants to intu Metrocentre, while intu is also investing in Eldon Square with a £25m development in Grey’s Quarter, adding 20 new restaurants.

SCH managing director Gary Finley said of the intu Metrocentre extension: “The 215-tonne extension consisted of primary structural steelwork which had to be erected within a service yard surrounded by two-storey buildings on all four sides.

“The steel was delivered through a service tunnel on 45-foot trailers, and we had to work both days and nights to erect the steelwork to ensure we met a tight programme deadline.”

SCH also had to carry out roof and structural strengthening works, involving 100 tonnes of primary and secondary steelwork which proved to be a very difficult and challenging task as the steelwork had to be hauled on to the second floor through gaps in the building where turn-table trucks were used to pull the steelwork into place.

This part of the work was a very slow process and required a great deal of planning to ensure all aspects of safety and quality were achieved.

As part of their works at the Metrocentre, SCH then manufactured and installed 24 galvanised units made up of roof access platforms, stairs and ladders which provide access to the maintenance team on the shopping mall roof, another complex part of the overall job. Due to the location of the ladders, staircases and platforms a mobile tower crane had to be used to complete the work on night shifts.

The next part of the project was to install a series of new glazed roof lights which run through the new catering quarter. Due to some of the structures being nine tonnes in weight, the roof light supports had to be built within SCH’s fabrication facility in Newton Aycliffe, then dismantled and transported to site.

They were then lifted into the roof using one of SCH’s own mobile cranes. The architectural frames were fully-welded together on site, millimetre perfect to ensure tolerances were met for the glass.

“It was another complex job within a very testing environment but I’m delighted to say we completed the job within programme,” added Finley.

The project proved to be challenging for SCH as they had to work around a continuous stream of deliveries, necessary to ensure that the retail businesses were able to operate as usual.

Working within a very busy environment certainly brings its own challenges but SCH worked with care and diligence ensuring that the safety of the public and the shopping centre staff was at the top of their agenda at all times.

SCH is becoming well-known for carrying out the more complex construction projects and this job for intu is just another example of the challenging work that they thrive on.

SCH is currently working on another project for intu at Eldon Square in Newcastle, while closer to home the firm recently constructed a 150-tonne project for Huntsman Tioxide at Greatham, near Hartlepool, for a new chlorinator, which involved using a 400-tonne crane to complete its complex roofing system.

Formed in 2006, SCH first operated as a crane hire company with four mobile cranes and four drivers working for local companies, but it grew into steelwork and in 2011 recorded a turnover of £325,000.

After moving into new premises in 2012, sales grew to £2.2m and then £3.43m before hitting £4.1m in 2013, £4.1m in 2014 and £4.5m in 2015, while staff numbers have also doubled to 40 in the last four years.

As well as Sir Robert McAlpine, SCH also boasts B&K Structures, Wates Group (formerly Shepherd Construction), Interserve, Hall Construction, Peikko and Balfour Beatty among its impressive client list.

For more details about SCH, go to or call them on 01325 327149.

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