The 68-metre long, 1.8-metre wide walkway, suspended across the lake at Watermead, is constructed from Duraplas plastic profiles which look just like wood but are expected to last much longer than the timber alternative.

The strength and versatility of the plastic profiles also enabled the use of an innovative construction solution that allowed the boadwalk to be installed in just four weeks despite the challenging waterside conditions.

An existing 20-year-old wooden walkway had started to rot and was becoming a potential safety risk to the public. The original gabion wall design first put to Watermead Parish Council would have entailed major construction work and disruption for residents caused by heavy earthmoving vehicles.  Instead, having heard of the success of Centriforce plastic profiles in providing durable public walkways at other sensitive locations, the council approached the company.

Working in collaboration with specialist contractor, 'Environments for People', Centriforce was able to design an improved walkway for use by pedestrians, pushchairs and wheelchairs - and introduce an innovative method of installing the recycled plastic posts, bearers and decking that would make up the complete walkway.

A pile driver mounted to a mini digger was positioned on a floating pontoon and used to drive more than 100 three-metre long vertical posts two metres down into the hard clay layer below the lake bed. The construction process demonstrated the integral strength of Duraplas profiles. This is a result of the Centriforce extrusion manufacturing process which makes the material capable of withstanding stresses that other types of plastic profiles could not cope with. The unique process also increased the speed of construction and minimised disruption to the local community.

Hugh Roberts, Environmental Consultant with Environments for People said that the use of plastic profiles in the structure offered significant advantages over traditional timber. Treated wood could have split during construction, rotted and leached chemicals.

“The recycled plastic profiles are so versatile.  They arrive in hundreds of pieces just like a giant Meccano set and can be drilled, sawn and bolted just like wood. They also have a degree of flexibility allowing them to be shaped around curves and on this project offered an additional advantage in that we could float them across the lake to precisely where we needed them.”

Clerk to Watermead Parish Council, Noreen Shardlow said the new walkway is fantastic. “It’s a busy thoroughfare and forms part of a circular walk around the lake. As it is made entirely from recycled plastic waste we have the added bonus of knowing it is sustainable and will remain in place for many
decades without having any effect on the local environment or wildlife.

“Many people have said they can’t believe the walkway is not made of wood when they first set eyes on it.”

Case Study Info

Client: Watermead Parish Council
Contractor: Environments for People
Location: Watermead, near Aylesbury, Bucks
Product: Duraplas® recycled plastic profiles
Project: Watermead Lake Walkway

Initial section of completed boardwalkpiling of recycled plastic posts into lake bed