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Wallsend, Tyne and Wear


Client:  Capita Property & Infrastructure

Duration:  2 Months

Services:  Topographic & Underground Utility Survey

Swan Hunter were responsible for building some of the greatest ships of the twentieth century, most famously, the RMS Mauretania which held the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic, and the RMS Carpathia which rescued the survivors from the RMS Titanic. The shipyard closed in the late 1980s and as part of the River Tyne North Bank regeneration strategy, the site in Wallsend was acquired by the Council in 2009.

To facilitate the development of the site Atlantic Geomatics were commissioned by North Tyneside Councils partner, Capita Property & Infrastructure, to carry out a topographical and underground utility survey. The survey would play an integral role in the design stage of the project and will provide the basis for key planning decisions.


Upon award of the contract a site meeting was arranged with Capita to clarify areas that were critical to the project and to discuss any safety issues our teams may encounter when working across the site. We were also made aware of an existing topographical survey from 2007 covering part of the site that would require verifying as well as numerous other areas that would require a full topographical and underground utility survey.

All survey work was carried out in line with:

  • The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors specification for Surveys of Land, Buildings and Utility Services at scales of 1:500 and larger

  • The Survey Associations Essential Guide to Utility Surveys

Topographic Survey

Following the site meeting Atlantic Geomatics commenced work on the Topographic Survey of the main site and the surrounding area. The first task was to establish permanent control stations in locations that could easily be re-established in the future. Five new control stations were installed and observed using RTK GPS and were tied into the existing local grid.


Once control had been established the topographical survey was carried out using primarily Trimble S6/VX total stations with some small areas surveyed using RTK GPS. Capita also requested the previous survey, which was drawn 1:1000 scale, to be updated and reissued at 1:100. To this end any missing or incomplete features were surveyed, and many existing features re-surveyed in greater detail. Maximum spacing between levels was 10m where access permitted, except in those areas identified as requiring 5m grid from the initial site meeting.


Utility Survey

Prior to mobilisation Capita supplied Atlantic Geomatics with statutory record drawings for water, drainage, electricity, gas, British Telecom and Cable & Wireless which were used to supplement electronically traced information. Services were located using the following techniques:

  1. Drainage- Manhole covers were lifted where possible with pipe sizes and main outlet invert depths recorded. All connections were proven by resonance and/or dye testing. Where necessary, a radio transmitting sonde was inserted into the pipe and the route electronically traced.

  2. Chambers were measured where significantly larger than the cover.

  3. Water- Electronic connections were made to all water surface features and pipes traced where possible. Non-metallic mains and services were plotted from ground penetrating radar, trench scars, verbal information or record drawings, where possible. Pipe sizes were measured at access points or taken from records.

  4. Gas- Electronic connections were made to all gas surface features but pipes could not be traced. Non-metallic mains and services were plotted from ground penetrating radar, trench scars, verbal information or record drawings, where possible. Pipe sizes were measured at access points or taken from records.

  5. Electricity- Electricity cables were traced from access points such as cable risers, cable pits and other electrical features such as lamp posts. The identification of electricity cables was made by association with the feature it was traced from or taken by correlating the traced services with the record drawings.

  6. British Telecom- All covers were lifted, chambers detailed and duct routes traced.

  7. Cable Television- All covers were lifted, chambers detailed and duct routes traced.

  8. Cable and Wireless- All covers were lifted, chambers detailed and duct routes traced.

  9. Unknown Service- Electronically traced services that could not be identified at an access or termination point were annotated as unknown.

  10. Upon completion all services found were marked on the ground and picked up using total station or GPS.

Void Survey

In addition to the underground utility survey Atlantic Geomatics carried out a Void Survey through the central area of the site. It was important to determine the locations of a number of underground chambers to support the design work.

The survey was carried out using ground penetrating radar where scans were carried out at 0.5 metre intervals across the void survey area. Real time, site analysis of the data was carried out and voids and other anomalies marked on the ground. These features were then measured using total station.


Once complete the final drawings were supplied in AutoCAD .DWG format and issued with an accompanying survey report detailing the methods Atlantic Geomatics used. These were supported by an MX Genio 3D Ground Model.


Atlantic Geomatics topographic survey and underground utility survey supplied Capita with the accurate detailed information they needed, as per the specification supplied, allowing them to assess the development of new buildings, roads and additional infrastructure for the regeneration project.


The River Tyne North Bank Enterprise Zone is ongoing as of February 2015 with some works nearing completion, such as the replacement of the bridge on Benton Way, a Toucan Crossing on Buddle Street and the provision of water, drainage and power to the site.

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