‘We played our part’: Calibro’s pride over Covid vaccine centre

When Calibro were asked to produce a report on the traffic implications of turning an events space in north-west London into a hub for mass vaccination against Covid-19, we felt compelled to contribute our expertise at this time of national crisis.

Byron Hall, in Harrow, has hosted parties, weddings, dances, sporting events – even election counts. But reinventing itself as a medical centre capable of inoculating 1,500 people a day required quite a different level of expertise – and a swift turnaround.

After Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust earmarked the 2,000sq metre hall as a Covid-19 vaccination hub, we had less than a week to report back on the traffic, travel and parking implications for the site and adjoining leisure centre.

Stuart Choak, our managing director and head of transport planning, says: “We went above and beyond because we wanted to do our bit to help. We acted swiftly to turn it around and make sure they could open on time.

It felt like being part of a war effort. Of course, we have a lot of experience in tackling quick turnaround projects, but it was still an honour to be asked to play such an important role.

Calibro were approached by strategic planning advisers Newsteer Real Estate Advisers, who we have successfully partnered with on previous projects, to analyse the traffic and parking issues arising from Byron Hall’s change of use.

Meetings were swiftly arranged with Harrow council’s highway team and manager of the adjoining leisure centre to understand the location conditions and the specific concerns of local council members. Armed with local highways data, Stuart wrote and delivered a comprehensive, analytical, evidence-based report within a few days to address the members’ concerns.

Our research and modelling showed that Byron Hall could handle traffic from patients arriving for their jabs, and would also cope with vehicles using the next-door leisure centre once it reopened after lockdown. Our report also covered the complex set-up phase involving multiple contractors and even the army.

Even with the site at 100% capacity, we were able to show graphically and numerically that there was reserve capacity to accommodate the level of use,” says Stuart.

We had to get under the skin of this facility. This was early December and no one had even been vaccinated yet. No one knew what these centres would look like and nothing like this had been done before.

On 14 December, just 12 days after Calibro began work on the project, the first patients received their Covid-19 vaccines at Byron Hall. A rewarding moment for the whole Calibro team.

Up to 1,500 people a day will be vaccinated at the centre, arriving by car, public transport and on foot.