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Philip Desmonde
Multidisciplinary Civil and Structural Engineering and Project Management

BSc, CEng, FIStructE, MAE


  • Expert Evidence and Expert Witness
  • Forensic Engineering (why structures collapse)
  • Infrastructure and Ground Engineering Structures
  • Geotechnical Engineering including Foundations
  • Master Planning and Consultation
  • Professional Appraisals and Economic Assessment
  • Project Management (Design and Build) – Major Projects

I am a Chartered Engineer with British qualifications that include Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers, Faculty of Building, GMICE and other professional bodies including the Academy of Experts. I am a past Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Branch of the Institution of Structural Engineers with over thirty years experience of engineering design and project management throughout the UK, Europe and the Middle east on Commercial, Residential, Industrial, Defence, and Maritime Projects with values up to £80M. I am a past Member of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management.

Expert Evidence Summary

Over the last 25 years, I have provided expert advice, reports and given expert evidence on more than 400 cases. I have been a Member of the Academy of Experts for a number of years. Examples include:

  • Failure of a 9m high retaining wall on two sides of a new supermarket. Constructed from “Permacrib”, a system of modular interlocking elements with ground anchors. A number of houses on the boundary overlooking the wall were in danger of collapse. Investigations and production of Expert Evidence to identify failure cause, responsibility, implications of Party Wall Act, and to provide opinion to the Court. Substantial cost and consequences involving 3 legal teams and specialist Barristers.
  • Part structural collapse of a masonry wall during construction operations leading to a death. Investigations at site and assessment of working practices. Expert Report and Evidence at Court into circumstances of the event with key issues being technical quality of construction, methods of work and management responsibilities in the context of the CDM Regulations. Substantial damages award.
  • Temporary Works collapse involving a proprietary steel shuttering installation for a reinforced concrete wall on a large construction site (Anaerobic Digestion Plant) leading to an operative’s death. Issues involved the type of plant used, method of work, Principal Contractor and Sub-Contractor relationship, risk evaluation, the CDM Regulations and Temporary Works Design and Management based on the principles of BS 5975. Forensic investigations and Expert Report for HSE Prosecution and civil action purposes.
  • Investigation and Expert Advice on many ground retaining structure failures (Geotechnical Engineering) or structures at danger of failure. Substantial examples include: 10m high embankment failure of Penzance/Paddington railway line in St Austell, Cornwall, above row of 8 dwellings; railway embankment/retaining wall at Lostwithiel, Cornwall; Pinnock Tunnel between Fowey and Par Harbours and Torpoint Tunnel on the A38; partial collapse of the Maenporth Tunnel after a flooding event; dry dock failures at Southampton and Falmouth; access road and ancient walls failing at Bolsover Castle; impact on A303 road works on Stonehenge.
  • Over 50 examples of mining related subsidence and remediation studies within the context of providing Expert advice (usually insurance related).
  • UK wide, numerous (in excess of 200), Advisory/Expert Reports on construction related accidents and failures, together with personal injury events. These have involved various health and safety issues but also construction and designer negligence claims.

Experience And Accomplishments

After obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering form the University of Plymouth, I began my career working in the UK with John Taylor & Sons (Hyder), and Kenchington Little and Partners on a range of building, water and environmental projects.

I moved to the Middle East in the late 70’s to work in Bahrain with Rendel Palmer and Tritton as their structural specialist on various maritime projects and bridges, before accepting an appointment with the Government of Qatar as Principal Structural Engineer and Project Coordinator, under the Direction of the Minister. I was allocated a large portfolio of work encompassing a schools building programme, various Fire Stations including an HQ at Umm Said, Khalifa National Stadium, structures for the State Broadcasting Service and numerous Hospital and Health Care structures in support of a major development programme.

During a short period in Private Practice in Qatar in the 1980’s, I accepted commissions as a Project Manager, advising local businesses in Qatar on major projects: Cement Works at Umm Babb, National Rice and Sugar Stores, Infrastructure at Umm Said and Al-Wakrah Industrial Parks, a Hotel and 10 storey Office Building on two storey Podium and a number of Sport and Leisure Complexes for the Qatari Football Association

In Private Practice in the UK, I have worked throughout the United Kingdom but also in Denmark, Romania, and most recently in Portugal. Major projects encompassed complex Process and Industrial sites; modern design of large-scale building, infrastructure and civil engineering structures within the Utility, Minerals and defence Sectors. Many hundreds of various projects for leading Private Sector and Public Sector Projects – for example, I am an adviser to the Scottish Executive in respect of St Andrews House (probably Europe’s largest ICCP installation) in Edinburgh where the offices of the First Minister, Scottish Cabinet and some 1000 Civil Servants are housed. Much of my work encompasses structures, geotechnical, infrastructure and development within the “brownfield” context.

My Firm, Philip Desmonde Partnership (PDP) and sister multidisciplinary architects and engineers Firm, PDP Green has a fee turnover of some £1.6M and employs up to 20 technical personnel.

I am a past Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Branch of the Institution of Structural Engineers. I am fortunate to have received a number of awards for my work and papers presented on subjects such as structural remediation and historic maritime structures. I was the Chairman of a specialist study group considering the problem of degrading concrete made with Mine waste materials.

My work and services have involved me in making use of many top-level design software packages and the use of AutoCAD, MS Project, database and spreadsheet methodologies on a daily basis. Financial management and administration of Quality Assurance Procedures and the whole range of H and S systems (hazard and risk evaluation) forms a key element of all I do.

Personal Strengths

  • Over thirty years of design of large-scale building and civil engineering structures.
  • Exceptionally high quality levels of Project Management experience.
  • Excellent leadership skills, coupled with some ten years experience of Partnering with Clients such as the Ministry of Defence, Imerys Minerals, and South West Water.
  • Good presentational skills and providing seminars and talks on projects and technical issues (audiences of up to 200).
  • I am an enthusiastic innovative problem solver. I try not to be limited by rules and seek to take forward the art and practice of design with innovative and imaginative proposals proved by testing. I use Value Engineering tools on a regular basis.
  • Excellent understanding of structural materials, particularly with challenging building forms made possible by sophisticated computer based design with the latest structural technologies.
  • Contract knowledge and dispute resolution.
  • Structural Appraisals, particularly of major and high-rise structures.
  • Overseas Experience: Qatar and Bahrain (6.5years); Portugal; Denmark; and Romania.

Some Relevant Projects (by Sector)

Commercial and Business Parks Generally I have over 15 years experience on Commercial and Industrial Projects throughout the UK, but also in Portugal, Malta and Denmark. Values have ranged to £100M.

  • Clodgey Lane Development: A 10.5ha residential and 15ha B1/B2 Commercial and Industrial Project involving a 1.6km relief road with 3 roundabouts, bridge culvert, plus infrastructure and particularly complex surface water drainage – £6M
  • Truro Technology Park for Financial and IT Businesses. A BREEAM “Excellent” development in a campus style of layout – £3.2M
  • Adviser to commercial organisations such as Boots, Peter de Savary, Laura Ashley, Woolwich Building Society, etc – Up to £1.1M

South West regional Development Agency Commission Manager for Framework Agreement to undertake multidisciplinary advisory advice on delivery of major commercial and industrial projects encompassing European Union Structural Funding (Objective 1 and Convergence Funds). Examples include:

  • Master Planning Tolvaddon Energy Park. A 15.2-hectare site. Option Studies, feasibility assessments, consultations for a planning application and made presentations in connection with proposals for some 35 buildings with floor area of 31,000m2 and an estimated job creation for 2,400 persons. Provided full design services for infrastructure – £16M
  • Former Cattle Market and Industrial site for Penzance Business Park. Regeneration for “high-tech” businesses Option Studies, Feasibility Assessments Lead Consultant for Master Planning a total site area of 2.82 hectares for large Commercial buildings (floor area 7,410m2, estimated 250 jobs will be created – £3M
  • Feasibility and Option Studies for refurbishment and upgrade of the Old County Hall, Truro – £2.5M
  • Land acquisition for Trevenson Road improvements (Gateway to Pool, Camborne and Redruth in Cornwall) CPR Regeneration Company.
  • Numerous site appraisals for investment.

Maritime Environment A substantial range of harbour, port and maritime feasibility studies and project promotion through Environmental Impact Assessment and Planning together with viability assessment for commercial decision-making. For example:

  • Refurbishment of Sea Walls & Inner Basin and redevelopment of numerous large military buildings at the Royal William Yard, Plymouth. Associated with £50M regeneration of very large former Ministry of Defence Establishment – £9.5M
  • Remedial works to entrance of Dry Dock 12 off Basin 5, HMNB Devonport – £0.75M
  • Study and Option Appraisals for Enclosure as permanent Museum and Educational Centre of the Mary Rose, HMNB Portsmouth – £2.8M
  • Infilling Trafalgar Dry Dock (1905), Southampton, over an area of some 12,000m2 for Associated British Ports – £1.6M
  • Western Jetties Project, HMNB Portsmouth. A 28m wide structure on high frequency driven steel tubular piles piles up to 1m dia. to provide berthing and support infrastructure for very large Naval Vessels including the new 65,000 tonnes Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers – £42M

Minerals and Petrochemical Industries Over 15 years advising the extractive Industries. For example:

  • Civil and Structural design for complex arrangement of Clay process buildings for Imerys Minerals: Tubes Press, Rocks; and Supercone, Trebal Refinery – £18M
  • Upgrade and environmental “clean-up” of the Ministry of Defence Oil Fuel Depot at Torpoint incorporating pipelines, Yonderberry Jetty, 8 no. 8,600m3 storage tanks, access roads and embankment structures – £3.5M

Defence Over 25 years experience working on a huge range of Military projects, from feasibility studies and option studies to overseeing the design of complex, multifaceted, highly technical projects up to £42m in value

  • First Phase of Single Living Accommodation at RNAS Culdrose for Junior Rates (96 bedsits over 3 levels). 5 more phases to follow – Up to £18M
  • Commission Manger responsible for advisory services to the MoD on over 100 sites in a Prime Contract entitled Debut (7 years term plus 3 years extension). A programme of building, civil and structural design solutions for many hundreds of project delivery needs (helicopter operation buildings, aircraft hangers, offices, training facilities, infrastructure, upgrade of fuel supplies, living accommodation, workshops, weapons storage, etc.)
  • Specialist Structural Inspections on the MOD Estate (about 15 per annum).

Water and Environmental I have been responsible for numerous water and environmental projects throughout the UK and overseas. However, my major area of activity was as Commission Manger of a Framework Contract with South West Water and Southern Water – Up to £19M

  • 1m diameter by 12 km pipeline from Burrator Reservoir to Crownhill, Plymouth for South West Water (£19m).
  • Pumping stations on River Lyd and 900mm diameter pumping main to Roadford Reservoir on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall (£10m)
  • Sewerage treatment schemes, such as Lanreath Sewage Treatment Works and transfer pumping over 4km from Pelynt Sewage Treatment Works. With construction costs up to £350,000.
  • For Plymouth University, a viability study, followed by design and construction of sewerage and sewage treatment works (aeration unit in reinforced concrete) for Seale Hayne Agricultural College, where it was a design requirement to cater for the substantial variation in population from a peak of 1,500 down to about 50, and discharge consent criteria of 25/20/10. (£360k)
  • Reconstruction of Honiton Sewage Treatment Works for discharge criteria of 15/25/5. (£2.8m)
  • New sewage treatment works for Porthleven involving preparation of design and build contract documents (Redbook) on a very difficult site, utilising BAFF treatment and ultra-violet disinfection. (£2.25m)
  • Technical audit and refurbishment of glass coated steel aeration unit at Veryan Sewage Treatment Works. (120k)
  • Design and construction advice for Docwra Construction installing a 1.2m diameter pumping main from Hayle Sewage Treatment Works, to a sea outfall at Gwithian. (£1.8m excluding material costs).
  • Rock armour protection of a lake embankment at Drift Reservoir, close to the concrete dam involving complex environmental issues and pollution control. (£200k).
  • Detailed geotechnical investigation of granite rock beneath Argal Dam, 135m long and 12m high, and assistance in the stability analysis (study and investigation – £180k).

Framework/Partnering Contracts Here, I describe a number of substantial Term Contracts I have been responsible for as Commission Manger, overseeing a large number of technical personnel, sub-consultant advisors of all types and contractors on Projects up to £20M.

  • 6 Year Term Contract to Monitor Stone Masonry and Europe’s largest Cathodic Protection scheme at St. Andrews House, Edinburgh (the Offices of the First Minister and Cabinet of the Scottish Parliament)
  • Advisor to the Transylvanian Trust, Romania, on the regeneration and Rehabilitation of Banffy Castle (with European Union and Getty Foundation funding).
  • Responsible to English Heritage on more than 12 large monuments over 10 years (Tintagel Castle, Stonehenge, Pendennis Castle, Bolsover Castle, St. Mawes Castle, etc).
  • Responsible for Hampshire County Council Term Contract over 5 years for structural advisory services (recently concluded).
  • Plymouth Development Corporation: Regeneration of the Royal William Yard and former RAF Mountbatten for a range of commercial and residential uses. Over 6 years with project values up to £16M.
  • South West RDA as mentioned above.
  • Framework South West: a group of 11 Housing Associations throughout the south west of England from 2010 – capital programme £73M over 4 years.
  • BAe Systems: 5 years working on a range of Military Buildings within Portsmouth Naval Base ranging from major buildings associated with the manufacture and construction of the QE Air Craft carriers to 8 storey accommodation facilities for Naval personnel. Project values up to £7m

Current Roles And Responsibilities

  • Specialist Structural and Geotechnical Engineering Design.
  • Commission Manager, driving assurance of Commission delivery to programme and quality.
  • Establish collaborative working with major clients and implementing/driving Partnering Principles.
  • “Value Engineering”.
  • Expert Reports and Expert Evidence, particularly for forensic assessment, construction disputes and geotechnical engineering.

Our Team

Philip Desmonde

Multidisciplinary Civil and Structural Engineering and Project Management

Adam Desmonde

Project Manager Process, Development and Construction

Ray Badgery

Principal Structural Engineer

Paul Foster

Principal Geo-Environmental Engineer & Managing Director

Ollie Ridge

Soil Technician

Adam Weatherall

Geo-Environmental Engineer