Explaining what’s happened to the series of British Standards on structural pavement design
In the 2000s, twelve British Standards were produced on the design, construction, and maintenance of pavements using modular paving units – but that proved to be an unwieldy number. This blog post explains how the series is now being consolidated for the benefit of all its users.
The BS 7533 series covered the use of clay, concrete and natural stone paving units in pavement design, construction, and maintenance, and was published in twelve parts between 2001 and 2010.
Unfortunately, what had seemed like a good idea at the time, proved to be less workable in practice. Use of the documents increased considerably as public-realm improvement schemes introduced more hard-landscaping and the cost of products decreased. But as the standards were used more often, it highlighted the fact that having so many parts caused confusion amongst designers and installers. The result was stress and the introduction of costly errors in terms of design and premature failure. It became clear that a rethink would be welcome.
A new model
The stone and concrete paving industries then worked together successfully to produce a new model for how these standards should be structured. The intention is that BS 7533 will now be published in three parts. The first is the newly published BS 7533-101:2021 Pavements constructed with clay, concrete, or natural stone paving units – Part 101: Code of Practice for the structural design of pavements using modular paving units.
The second standard will be Part 102, Code of practice for the construction and maintenance of pavements using modular paving units. The third part will be designated either Part 13 or Part 103 and will be a guide to the design of permeable pavements constructed with concrete paving blocks and flags, natural stone slabs and setts, and clay pavers.
The new standard
BS 7533-101:2021 provides guidance and recommendations on the design of pavements surfaced with concrete paving blocks manufactured in accordance with BS EN 1338; concrete paving flags manufactured in accordance with BS EN 1339; natural stone slabs manufactured in accordance with BS EN 1341; natural stone setts manufactured in accordance with BS EN 1342 and clay pavers manufactured in accordance with BS EN 1344 and constructed in accordance with BS 7533-3, BS 7533-4, BS 7533-7 and BS 7533-9.
It also provides guidance and recommendations on the use of concrete kerbs manufactured in accordance with BS EN 1340 and natural stone kerbs manufactured in accordance with BS EN 1339 and constructed in accordance with BS 7533-82. It applies to areas subject to pedestrian and vehicular loadings permissible under The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 with axle loads up to 11 000 kg and a cumulative design traffic of up to 30 million standard axles (msa).
The benefits to users
The revision of BS 7533-101:2021 brings users a lot of benefits, not least that they’ll save money from buying only one standard and not five. In addition, the hope is that the standard’s use simplifies the design process; helps reduce costly design errors and premature failure; helps mitigate risk in terms of missing important information caused by having to use different parts, and finally enables greater control of the procurement process.
Potential users have commented that local authorities will now have more confidence in the standard. This in turn will mean that designers will not need to be instructed to over-specify products – such as thicker materials. It will mean there’s less need to source materials from far-afield due to cost, enabling materials to be sourced in the UK. The standard will also reduce material and installation costs of large public-sector works. All round, it’s anticipated that this standard will be a great improvement for industry and the public.