In 2012 the town of Walsall underwent a major regeneration. The Waterfront North site was developed after the approval of a joint land agreement between Walsall Council, Whitbread, Urban Splash and the Governments Homes and Communities Agency. The development was based on 2.2 acres of brownfield land, where more than 300 homes and apartments as well as a Premier Inn hotel were to be constructed.
This was the final part of a development programme planned to transform the town which, in recent years, has seen a new hospital, college and art gallery. Walsall was in desperate need of regeneration, and this development programme has been described as a massive vote of confidence for the city centre, as employment in the local area was at an all-time low. Whitbread were central to this project, opening a large Brewers Fayre restaurant alongside the hotel.
RCM were appointed by Whitbread to provide Y-wall, an advanced flexible calcium, silicate based fibre cement building board, for the construction of the Premier Inn. This was to be used as an external sheathing board, covering the structural steel frame, infilled with SFS steel. RCM Y-wall is a flexible calcium silicate based fibre cement building board, offering excellent fire properties as well as high levels of dimensional stability. Y-wall is used as a fire rated sheathing board and is applied extensively on both metal and timber frame structures. The product is able to be applied behind all types of facade solutions, as well as in floors and roofs offering a non-combustible classification. Y-wall can be cut, drilled and nailed – offering many of the properties of timber.
Key properties of RCM’s Y-Wall include a non-combustional classification, excellent water repellence properties, flexibility and strength. Y-Wall is RCM’s lightest sheathing board with improved workability. To meet the specified one hour fire rating required by the client, 9mm Y-wall was used to create a non-combustible lining of the building. A polymer modified thin coat silicon render system was then applied directly to the 9mm Y-wall to produce the final decorative facade. The robust building boards were left exposed to adverse weather conditions for up to seven months and were not affected, by the heat, rain, freeze and thaw.
The 100 bedroom Premier Inn was designed to attract more visitors to the town as well as to generate much needed employment. The hotel was planned to create around 65 new jobs. Unemployment was such an issue in the surrounding area that the hotel set up a partnership with the local college and Job Centre Plus, to offer unemployed residents pre-employability courses to improve skills for working in hospitality and customer service.
The build was completed on time at a total cost of circa £12 million. Ian Quinton, Managing Director of RCM commented on the build: “It was great to work with such a well-known brand as Premier Inn. This project was the perfect example of how our Y-wall can be used for its weather resistant and fire safety properties. It has been a privilege to be involved with this regeneration programme which has boosted employment in Walsall.”