Hellens Group



Oakdale Contracts, a Catterick-based paving manufacturer, is partnering with the Materials Processing Institute to develop low embodied carbon concrete kerbs after successfully securing £415,000 in grant funding from Innovate UK.

Cement and concrete production account for approximately eight percent of global CO2 emissions, with traditional concrete production using extensive quantities of Ordinary Portland Cement materials which requires large amounts of energy.

A market leader in the production of sustainable paving slabs, Oakdale Contracts, is teaming up with the Teesside-based Institute to focus on the development of low carbon concrete kerbs for the construction and hard-landscaping sector.

A national centre for research and innovation across the foundation industries, the Materials Processing Institute is making its cutting-edge expertise in alternative cementitious materials available in the search for a novel new material.

When manufactured at Oakdale, the intention is to produce a cementitious material that has a low or carbon neutral footprint, but ensuring the product retains at least the same performance values and aesthetics of products manufactured using traditional methods and designs.

With the sector considered one of the highest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, Innovate UK has launched the £12m Resource Efficiency for Materials and Manufacturing (REforMM) programme, to support UK materials and manufacturing organisations to become significantly more resource efficient.

Oakdale, a subsidiary of Hellens Group, has deployed other decarbonising tactics to help with its commitment to develop carbon free products in the future. The firm has recently built a 576-panel solar farm, which currently provides 300,000 kWh of energy per year - enough energy supply for the entire factory.

Gavin Cordwell-Smith, chief executive at Hellens Group said: “We are delighted to have been awarded £415,000 from innovate UK and we’re very much looking forward to working closely with our partners at the Materials Processing Institute, who will add serious value to what we’re trying to achieve.

“The partnership truly highlights the talent and expertise of workers in the North East, who will be striving to ultimately unlock the magical formula for low embodied carbon concrete to be used widely across our sector.

Richard Birley, the Institute’s Group Manager for Advanced Materials, and leader of the project added: “As we tackle the pressing issue of decarbonising energy intensive industries, this collaboration embodies the spirit of innovation and sustainability by harnessing expertise in alternative cementitious materials. Together, we aim to create a new standard for environmentally responsible construction materials, marking a pivotal step towards a greener and more energy-efficient future."


Photo Caption: L-R:Andy Johnson (Oakdale), Wisdom Asotah, (Materials Processing Institute) Michael Jonas and Nick Tutty (Oakdale) with the Institute’s Sam Bell, Molly Watson and Richard Birley, pictured at Oakdale's plant

Notes to Editors:

Issued on behalf of Hellens Group

Contact Josh Mason 01325 363436

About Hellens Group:

The Hellens Group, with offices in Washington, Stockton-on-Tees and Catterick, incorporates a number of property, construction, manufacturing and social enterprise businesses with interests throughout the North East, Tees Valley and Yorkshire.

The original business (John Hellens (Contracts) Ltd) was founded in 1973 to focus on the regeneration of brownfield sites; the company became leading experts in the field. Hellens Group has significantly expanded and adapted to changing market conditions, moving into sports and recreation facility construction, social housing, land and property development and investment as well as manufacturing of hard landscaping products for the building industry.



About the Materials Processing Institute

The Materials Processing Institute is a research and innovation centre serving global steel and materials organisations that work in advanced materials, industrial decarbonisation, the circular economy, and digital technologies.

The Institute has served as the UK’s national steel innovation centre since 1944 having been set up by Sir Winston Churchill’s wartime government just before D-Day to equip the British steel industry for post-war reconstruction. It will celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2024.

Through collaboration with its customers, the Institute provides a range of technology and R&D based services and consultancy. It also has pilot and demonstration facilities and an SME Technology Centre to support supply chain businesses with the development of new technologies and products.

Works with: steel, metals and alloys, chemical processes, aerospace and defence, energy, mining and quarrying, construction, rail, transport, and infrastructure, offshore, subsea, and nuclear.


About Innovate UK

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is creating a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations. We provide targeted sectors with expertise, facilities and funding to test, demonstrate and evolve their ideas, driving UK productivity and economic growth. Join our network and communities of innovators to realise the potential of your ideas and accelerate business growth. Innovate UK: inspiring business innovation. 

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L-R:Andy Johnson (Oakdale), Wisdom Asotah, (Materials Processing Institute) Michael Jonas and Nick Tutty (Oakdale) with the Institute’s Sam Bell, Molly Watson and Richard Birley, pictured at Oakdale's plant
L-R:Andy Johnson (Oakdale), Wisdom Asotah, (Materials Processing Institute) Michael Jonas and Nick Tutty (Oakdale) with the Institute’s Sam Bell, Molly Watson and Richard Birley, pictured at Oakdale's plant
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