St Georges House, Croydon

St Georges House, Croydon

A large scale soft strip of the former Nestle headquarters, a 22 floor tower block, including lift removal, asbestos removal and working around live services and tenants.

Location: Croydon, South London
Project Brief: Asbestos Removal, soft strip, lift removal.
Budget: £2,200,000
Duration of project:  45 weeks


Dominating the Croydon skyline, the monolithic St Georges House is to be redeveloped after nearly five decades as UK headquarters of the Swiss food giant Nestlé.

With a £3.5 billion regeneration programmed for the London borough the building, known by Croydon locals as the Nestlé Tower, is undergoing a transformation into a development of both private and affordable housing. According to the proposals the exterior will receive a makeover to bring the appearance up to date with other developments in the city, ensuring the structure’s future for many decades to come.

To enable the modernisation of the 23 storey edifice, Southern Demolition were contracted to strip the interior back to its bare shell in a £2.2 million contract. This was some considerable task considering all materials would have to be transported to the ground floor using the existing lift system. They certainly became close friends with their lift repair engineers who kept the lifts running safely throughout the 10 month contract. A scaffolding gantry was erected to the front of the building to enable the huge volume materials to be loaded directly into 40 cubic yard skips for recycling.

Due to the early 1960s construction it was inevitable that asbestos containing materials were abundantly present throughout. The bitumen adhesive to the floor screed on every level of the main tower and its adjoining 6 storey block contained Chrysotile white asbestos. To remove this each floor had to be enclosed with airlocks and then material was removed with triple headed remote operated floor grinders which automatically vacuumed and bagged the resultant waste. The amount of hazardous floor screed waste alone was in excess of 120 tonnes, all removed in a 7 week timeframe. Elsewhere the usual suspects such as asbestos insulating board, floor tiles and Durasteel firebreaks were taken out under controlled or licenced conditions in accordance with CAR2012. Underneath that a further 27,000 m2 cement screed had to be removed by breakers and loaded away to 20 yard skips via a chute and a series of conveyor belts.

Although such hazardous waste is unavoidable, nearly 20,000 square metres of carpet tiles were able to be removed for reuse which helped prevent unnecessary waste being taken to landfill. At the end of the project Southern Demolition achieved a 95% recycling rate in their site waste management plan.

Another less well known member of the area’s skies was a Peregrine Falcon that was occasionally spotted by SDC’s staff from the higher floors. Although the bird was not nesting on St Georges House it is known to use the building as a perch to spot prey. This meant that the removal of external roof plant was planned not to coincide with the bird of prey’s breeding season. Another good example of the Byfleet, Surrey based contractor’s award winning attention to its neighbours. As with most of their current contracts the site was registered to the Considerate Constructors Scheme and was judged to be beyond compliance by the CCS monitor.

Southern Demolition’s Managing Director Paul Hunt explains, “With seemingly less and less full demolition projects on offer, Southern Demolition are fast becoming the leader in large strip-out projects throughout the capital and beyond.”


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