Big-scheme building boss proud of his final project
Geoff’s major projects have transformed our country Exclusive
A builder who has spent his working life on construction sites such as the Olympic Park and Bluewater shopping centre is set to complete his final project in Ashford.
Geoff Burningham, 65, is a construction director for Lendlease, the firm delivering the £75 million cinema and hotel scheme in Ashford town centre.
The development on the site of the former cattle market will include six screens operated by Picturehouse, eight restaurants, a 58-room hotel operated by Travelodge and 282 parking spaces.
It will be the final construction site for Mr Burningham, who first started as a carpenter at the age of 16 after leaving Margate College in 1967.
He said: “I’ve worked on residential and commercial sites and some really big projects, including the Olympics, the Imperial War Museum and Channel 4’s new headquarters.
“I worked from start to finish at the Bluewater shopping centre, which is one of the best things in Kent, in my view. I’m very proud of it. It was done at the same time as my son was born, which was brilliant.
“At t he I mperial War Museum, we moved tanks and Spitfires to create a new atrium for the First World War exhibition, which was opened by Prince William. The history of the place was unbelievable.”
The father-of-four said the main change over the past 50 years has been the arrival of health and safety laws and recalled that when he first started he didn’t need to wear a hard hat on site.
Mr Burningham, who lives in Whitstable, said he feels emotional that his last project will be back in Kent, where he first started.
He said he thinks the scheme will make a big difference to the town.
He said: “This development just opens up the whole length of this area. With the college opening soon, it will be a great area which will start blossoming.
“People have to go to another part of Ashford for the other cinema but an awful lot of people cross the bridge here every day and this development will be next door to them.”
The site work is due to finish at the end of 2018 and Mr Burningham then hopes to enjoy his retirement with his boat in Whitstable.
Geoff Burningham will complete his final project in Ashford (artist’s impression below) before retiring