Olympic Park site visit

On a day of dramatic downpours accompanied by thunder and lightening in an otherwise unprecedentedly dry and sunny Spring, Future of London were taken on a tour of the Olympic Park by Stephen Wells, Operations Director of Mace. Mace are part of a partnership delivery vehicle for the Olympic Site called CLM (standing for the three companies involved, CH2M Hill, Laing O’Rourke and Mace).

From the fortunately dry and comfortable seats of our tour bus, Stephen gave us a really thorough and interesting talk as we drove around the Park, detailing where each of the key buildings were at in terms of construction, giving us key facts, highlighting some of the challenges involved, and some of the unique opportunities presented. For example, CLM’s contract with the ODA had a very high sustainability specification. All the venues are on target to achieve ‘Excellent’ BREEAM grades, 97% of demolition material has been recycled and re-used on-site (an industry-leading achievement), CHP plants, rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling have all been implemented, and 4,000 displaced newts have been successfully relocated!

One of the key challenges was presented by security, which is very tight on the site, with particular focus on detection of explosive devices and narcotics (CLM want to maintain their record as the only Olympic build without a fatality, and contractors ‘under the influence’ could seriously jeopardise this target – Health and Safety is paramount to CLM and they are justly proud of their efforts, which they say have influenced contractors positively to improve and learn themselves). CLM employ a security guard force of ex-Ghurkhas and have erected a 14km fence all the way around the site, with just three strictly controlled entrance points – so we can be confident that any bad guys attempting to disrupt the construction process will be successfully foiled.

Another challenge has been the Legacy aspect of the Games, with some venues (such as the basketball arena) being created as temporary structures designed specifically to be dismantled and sold on after the Games, and others (such as the aquatics centre and the stadium) being designed in a way that they can be reduced in size/capacity after the Games to better suit the needs of the local community. Bridges are also a key feature, with 28 new ones being built across the site, with some due to be removed post Games, and some others due to be added, all to take into account the changing requirements from Games mode to Legacy mode.

After the bus tour we were taken into the site offices (experiencing the strict security procedures ourselves) and rewarded by excellent biscuits and cups of tea. Stephen proceeded to give a joint presentation with his colleague Kevin Cowin (Director of Regeneration at Mace) about CLM and their delivery of the Olympic venues and park. CLM have an impressive programme and project management structure in place, which they have created especially for the Olympic Project. Their approach ensures that risks are properly accounted for and that information is effectively disseminated, crucial for such a large project with so many people and organisations involved. They are proud to say that they are on target and on budget for delivery, with the venues ready to be opened for test events in June 2011.

Jessie Lea

Development & Disposals Team
Southwark Property