Sewell was appointed to design and build a new city centre facility, which was an integral part of the Hull NHS LIFT programme.

Wilberforce Health Centre was to house two city centre GP practices as well as a range of other health and community services, which were in need of more fit for purpose premises.

As principal contractor, Sewell needed to safely demolish the existing derelict building, relocate the existing city centre substation, develop party wall agreements with neighbouring properties and construct a four story facility in an extremely high profile area; a main city centre artery road and busy shopping location.


The new building needed to house a unique mix of services. Client groups were diverse, many were vulnerable and there were potential conflicts between groups; future flexibility was also a critical design consideration.

To overcome these challenges Sewell and their client Citycare ensured service providers were involved from the outset; a set of patient vignettes accompanied the original development brief to give the project team a deeper insight into patient and staff needs.

As the existing building that was due for demolition had piled foundations, the new piling layout required detailed and careful coordination around the presumed location. As a result there were only two pile clashes that were successfully redesigned with no programme or cost implications.

Sewell Facilities Management provided useful insight into product lifecycle and intelligent building management systems to ensure the best whole life costing for the client.

Using the business’ rigorous procurement criteria, subcontractors from Sewell’s preapproved supply chain database that already met the nationally recognised Constructing Excellence Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were invited to submit a competitive tender. Tenders were thoroughly scrutinised to guarantee the best team to carry out the works. Of the 32 subcontractors appointed, 26 were Hull companies and the remaining 8 were Yorkshire firms.


Sewell regularly engaged with 20 community groups throughout development; the 24/7 helpdesk number was also made available to all retailers, allowing them to raise any queries or complaints easily. Bi-monthly meetings were held with them throughout the construction.

To support local business, promotion for the shop units was incorporated into hoardings and joint news stories also featured in the local media. Sewell held over 30 events, including a sod cutting, a time capsule burial with a local school during the construction.

Great consideration was given for the deconstruction of the existing four storey building as it was on a main road, with adjacent properties; utilising structural planning, coordinated method statements with the supply chain and close liaison with the demolition contractor. Sewell instigated a road closure to ensure the safety of all concerned and create space to carry out the work. The building was dismantled with no impact to the safety of operatives, the public or neighbouring buildings.

To achieve excellence and a single team approach from the supply chain, Sewell inducted each and every operative onto site, carried out quality spot checks and site inspections throughout the works and held ‘tool box talks’ with the site teams. These talks enabled Sewell to reinforce the project KPIs and expected working behaviors, which gave operatives gave operatives opportunities to recommend different ways of working to improve quality and performance.

Throughout the project Sewell held numerous events on site to thank the operatives for their hard work and commitment and also build personal engagement and pride in the project, such as a topping out ceremony where the project manager publicly recognised and thanked members of the supply chain.

As part of the environmental considerations:

  • The project team minimized the impact of dust throughout demolition using water mist to dampen down dust.
  • Noisy works were carried out in daytime hours in liaison with local businesses.
  • Demolition materials were effectively crushed and reused in the piling mat.
  • 98% of the demolished building was recycled.
  • The building Exceeded Environment Agency flood mitigation expectations

12 weeks prior to the project being completed, ‘countdown to completion’ meetings were established with all key stakeholders to ensure the building moved from the construction phase to an operational health centre seamlessly.


Wilberforce Health Centre was delivered:

  • On time
  • On budget
  • With zero reportable accidents
  • Using 90% local labour

The scheme was awarded Gold and Silver Considerate Constructors Awards.


Individuals who work and use the facilities in the building were influential in the design stages and Sewell as lead contractor worked hard to keep local residents and businesses fully informed throughout the process; it’s something local people deserve and should be very proud of.

Charles Lewis Independent Chair, Citycare Ltd