Woods Christchurch Project Showcase: Suffolk Road, Residential Development

Manu Miskell
Senior Associate Engineer
Suffolk Road

Every land development project has its challenges. The Suffolk Road residential development in Nelson was a particularly challenging site. Woods’ Christchurch-based engineer Manu Miskell explains how the team managed this dynamic situation efficiently and effectively to ensure a successful outcome for the client and community.

Suffolk Road is a small residential development located in Stoke, Nelson. It is one of many similar-sized developments Woods has been involved with for the local iwi organisation known as Wakatū. Planning and preliminary work for the 42 lot residential subdivision commenced in 2016, and the last stage was completed in early 2020.

Woods completed the civil engineering design and earthworks design and were involved with project management throughout the construction phase. It was this construction phase that proved to be the most challenging part of this project.

From orchard to residential development

Parts of the land on the Suffolk Road site were previously used for horticulture – in this case, an orchard. This is quite common for development sites in the Nelson region where land was predominantly used for horticulture purposes in the past, however, it meant there was soil contamination from sprays which had to be remediated before we could develop the site.

We engaged a soil contamination expert and a geotechnical expert who created a very intricate remediation strategy to get the concentrations to an acceptable level.

Each expert had a different piece of the puzzle, but they didn’t understand the whole picture. So while we are not experts in soil contamination or geotech, we had to understand enough about it that we could ask the right questions, get the right information, pull it all together to make it work on the ground, and keep the contractor in the loop.

Keeping the project going in a dynamic situation

There were always new problems and challenges being thrown at us throughout the project management phase. It was quite a dynamic situation where we had to make sure that the solutions were practical and cost-efficient, while trying to be efficient and do it all quickly so the project didn’t stall.

We solved a lot of the challenges through collaborating with the different experts to find practical solutions and working closely with the contractor to make sure that they were happy and understood what was going on. We also kept the client informed throughout the process when things were always changing.

Key Takeaways

Collaboration, communication, and teamwork were key on this project to getting a good result.

  • Having the right information very early in the project is essential to enable us to make good decisions early on. From a project management perspective, that means getting the right people involved early on, making sure that the information we get upfront is appropriate, and then mitigating the risks early in the process to make the project run more streamlined.


  • Having a good relationship with the client, the contractor, and the other experts made the project run a lot smoother. These relationships enabled us to find practical, cost-effective solutions to resolve the challenges, keep the stakeholders happy, and bring it all together successfully.


Manu Miskell - Senior Associate Engineer

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