Thorpe Park: Site-Wide

Leeds, UK

The vision for the Thorpe Park development scheme is to create a unified community, pulling work, home, leisure and transport together in a sustainable venture that encourages wellbeing and enterprise.

The vast development marks a new era in urban regeneration, offering retail, leisure and commercial accommodation, as well as 140 acres of green space and public realm, and 300 new homes.

Buro Happold was commissioned by Thorpe Park Development Limited to provide civil engineering design services for the scheme. This encompassed pre-planning and planning, early works, earthworks, coal mining legacy risk management, Network Rail asset works and site-wide drainage.


Dealing with challenging ground conditions and developing flexible options for future building projects were key client drivers. The area is situated in undulating terrain where underlying coal has been extensively mined, leaving abandoned and unrecorded mine workings on site.

There were also numerous considerations for the site-wide works, with both residential and commercial development platforms adjacent to the proposed railway.

The service offered by Buro Happold was to a very high standard. Buro Happold were particularly good at communicating extensive and complicated technical data in a clear and concise way to assist with critical and timely decision making. Their ability to tailor key information to the immediate project needs adds value to their work and the project as a whole.

Andrew Schofield, Contracts Manager, GMI Construction Group

With sustainable office space, new homes and ample amenities, Thorpe Park will be one of the largest and most diverse business locations in the UK. Image: Ares Landscape Architects Ltd


To deliver a best value strategy for the development, an holistic approach to site-wide engineering was crucial to balance risks and opportunities. Our team supplied ground engineering advice using existing information and scheme-specific ground investigation to develop and hone an accurate three-dimensional site ground model.

We also developed an earthworks cut/fill strategy that reduced off-site disposal costs and associated transport logistics issues. We retained all topsoil, allowing any surplus to be sold, saving potential waste disposal costs and generating income. Similarly, to offset the costs associated with the historical mine workings, we created a strategy to extract and sell the coal from beneath the site, again managing risk and maximising opportunity.

Our drainage solution used efficient and sustainable systems to fit with the overall design. The best value solution required engineering works to the existing railway embankment, Network Rail drainage infrastructure to the boundary, and a Network Rail culvert which takes surface water drainage from the proposed development These works are also helping unlock and improve the proposed ‘East Leeds Parkway’ station that’s currently being developed.

Our pragmatic and flexible approach, coupled with a good working knowledge of guidelines and legislation, delivered real added value to our client.

The ground conditions were challenging and flexibility in respect of future building projects was a key client driver. This point was clearly understood by Buro Happold through all stages of design; their briefings were well constructed, options offered and solutions provided to facilitate best value.

Andrew Schofield, Contracts Manager, GMI Construction Group

Our engineers developed 3D ground models to navigate the development’s uneven terrain and abandoned coal mines. Image: Ares Landscape Architects Ltd


The Thorpe Park development has been carefully planned to encourage the people who will live and work there to flourish. The project is set to bring substantial benefits to the local community, providing new houses, offices and leisure facilities, improving transport links and creating over 13,000 jobs.

Talk to us

Our policies and terms outline the information we collect about you, and how we process your personal information, please read them to be fully informed. We also use cookies on our website to provide you with a better experience. By continuing to use this site, without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Continue Close