25 years of loving construction: Ochre Yards, Gateshead

A picture of Ochre Yards, Gateshead, where SCS Group carried out smoke control work

25 years of loving construction: SCS Group carried out smoke control work at Ochre Yards, Gateshead

In the run-up to SCS Group’s 25th anniversary in December, we are publishing a series of case studies looking back at our work over the years. In the third in the series, we look back at Ochre Yards, Gateshead – a Bellway Homes residential development.

Ochre Yards is a popular, sought-after apartment complex, well located on the south bank of the River Tyne and described by Bellway as “a prime location for young professionals and commuters”.

We first got involved in this development through Homevent, part of the Nuaire Group, back in 2003. We were originally employed on a fee basis by P+HS Architects to design the smoke control requirement. Following our design input, we were successful in obtaining the order to supply, install and commission the required extract systems starting with blocks 5, 6 and 11.

We also designed, supplied and installed a combination UniJet and UniForce car park ventilation system. After this, we also became involved in other phases of the project.

‘A unique system’

SCS Group Contracts Manager Chris Connolly, a Project Engineer at the time, remembers: “It was quite a unique system with a mechanical stair vent which we hadn’t done before. It was pioneering fire-engineered solutions.”

A picture of Ochre Yards, Gateshead, where we did smoke control work. This is part of our 25 years of loving construction series of case studies

Ochre Yards, Gateshead

Due to the internal layout of the common areas within the building and the travel distances exceeding the building regulations requirements, the solution was to provide mechanical extraction systems to the common access corridors.

The system briefly comprised high temperature run and standby extract fans connected to each lobby by enhanced ductwork via smoke dampers. Each lobby was provided with a dedicated smoke detector which provided the automatic operation of the extract system. As with all life safety systems a secondary power supply is required to provide back-up power in the event of mains failure. With this development it was not possible to provide a secondary mains supply, so a UPS system was provided by SCS Group to supply all of the smoke control systems.

‘Great nightlife’

Chris needed to visit site regularly as the project developed and remembers how he drove up in his car: “It was hard – it was a 750-mile round trip. But I enjoyed going up there – the locals were really friendly and great to work with. And they had a great nightlife.”

He was often accompanied on site by our Projects Director Chris Jones (then a Project Engineer), as well as our Director Simon Inwood, who then worked for Wessex Automated Systems (which later became part of SCS Group). Simon worked on control panels and commissioning at Ochre Yards.

On its website today, Bellway says: “Since work first began on the site back in 2003, Ochre Yards has grown into a prime location for young professionals and commuters wanting to make the most of all that Newcastle’s vibrant city centre has to offer, combined with close proximity to tranquil open spaces and a relatively secluded location.”

You can find out more about the development at