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Olympic Legacy: Golden opportunity to make a mark

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games may have been and gone, but activity on the Olympic Park continues apace and offers good work for contractors.

 

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Pay back: Bam Nuttall’s infrastructure packages have seen its Olympic Park earnings hit the £600M mark, including a £70M legacy deal

Avoiding the level of public scrutiny that faced those working on the Olympic Stadium build or that of the Athlete’s Village, Bam Nuttall managed to steadily accrue infrastructure packages that have seen its Olympic Park earnings hit the £600M mark.

“We realised where the client’s focus was and worked at being able to deliver exactly what they wanted”

Malcolm Stephen, Bam Nuttall

From its earliest involvement in the demolition and remediation work to its current involvement transforming the Games site into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the contractor has been an ever present on the scheme.

And having picked up the £70M legacy deal it is arguable that the first person onto the Olympic Park site was wearing a Bam Nuttall helmet and the last one off it will be wearing one too.

The whole project has been a triumph of client understanding, according to business development director Malcolm Stephen, even before it took the opening £80M remediation package on the North Park site.

“I think we fully understood the client’s requirements from the off. Even before the Games had been awarded to London the bid team was talking about their legacy - promising regeneration around the site, training for local workers, pulling more people out of unemployment and making the games the most environmentally friendly ever.

“We realised where the client’s focus was and worked at being able to deliver exactly what they wanted,” he says.

With experience gained on soil remediation work carried out in similar conditions on the Greenwich Peninsula, the Bam Nuttall team was confident it had the expertise to meet the brief for the package. But when Stephen and the rest of Bam Nuttall’s business development team walked the site it soon became clear that the contract value of £80M published in the OJEU in December 2005 was well wide of the mark.

“There were rats scurrying around and all sorts of rubbish dumped everywhere. You could see the scale of the problem and we knew the £80M was nowhere near what would be required.

“You could tell that initial package would turn into a major deal but lots of our competitors missed its significance,” he says.

And just how significant. In a package that was eventually to last five years the Bam Nuttall team managed to more than quadruple that initial £80M win into a remediation contract worth £360M.

“We would hold integration meetings between contractors and chaired by the client so that we could share ideas about safe working or health issues”

Richard Prime, Bam Nuttall

And on the back of this success the contractor took further packages including the £122M South Park roads and bridges deal and the £70M North Park landscaping work among others.

It has also taken the ‘clear, connect, complete,’ legacy deal worth £70M that will see the Olympic Park transformed into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a centre for local businesses, residents and the wider East London community.

But the successful delivery of the Park as a whole underlined just what the UK construction industry can do when it pulls together under a clearly defined delivery procedure with a strong client that is prepared to back its contractors. Having an utterly unmoveable completion date helped too.

“It focuses the mind but we certainly saw our work as a project not only to be delivered for Bam Nuttall’s benefit but for that of UK construction plc. We took the view that we would work as closely as possible with the whole of the construction team, throughout the supply chain, in order to make the scheme a success,” says Bam Nuttall operations director Ian Parish.

Clearly it is an approach that has paid off to the benefit of everyone involved in the construction of the Olympic Park and Village, from the highest managerial levels to those out on site scraping the mud from their boots.

“There were so many contractors working in actually quite a small patch of land that we all had to make sure our methods of working evolved,” says Bam Nuttall operations manager, special projects, Richard Prime.

He was brought up from a highway project in Devon to oversee the roads and bridges package on the park in 2008 and caught the Olympic delivery bug.

“We would hold integration meetings between contractors and chaired by the client so that we could share ideas about safe working or health issues.

“Of course, there was still healthy competition between contractors but safety for instance, shouldn’t be a secret and certainly we developed initiatives that had been suggested by other contractors,” headds.

Of course relationships with the client and other major contractors are strengthened on the back of delivering what is promised, and the early wins of handing the stadium platform and that of the Aquatics Centre over three months early certainly helped. In the end the Bam Nuttall team has been able to boast the astonishing figures of a 70% tender success.

In fact the team even said no to a couple of packages it was asked to tender, a decision which Stephen believes underlines the close, mature working relationship with the client.

“We said ‘yes’ to all the jobs we believed were right but ‘no’ to most of those that didn’t fit our skill sets and deliverability. Just being able to say ‘no’ shows the strength of the relationship with the client. We were able to have a sensible, grown-up conversation with the client and explain our reasons,” he says.

The Games may have been and gone but for the Bam Nuttall team the emphasis has shifted seamlessly to delivering the tangible legacy that was such an important part of London winning the Games in the first place.

As an exemplar construction project it has offered much for the wider industry to learn from and use on the more mundane jobs. Transferring the knowledge and successful sharing of working practices built up during the construction phase to other schemes should be construction’s legacy.

But for Stratford and east London the team’s work in delivering jobs, apprenticeships, sporting venues and leisure space continues.

“Being part of the Olympic story has been fantastic but morally it is more important to deliver a proper legacy for Stratford and the wider area. That is what keeps the motivation,” says Prime.

Health and safety culture tops podium

The greatest tribute to the professional work carried out by all of the construction teams working on every aspect of the Olympic Games delivery has been that that they were managed without a construction-related death.

This achievement is thanks to the focus of all the contractors and their supply chain and a health and safety culture that became deeply rooted throughout the project. From occupational health initiatives to tool-box talks and pre-work warm ups the safety message has been enthusiastically accepted by everyone on-site.

“It is a culture that has been driven by the client,” says Prime, “It was brave enough to say it would be the first death-free games from the outset and everyone has worked together to really drive that philosophy through.”

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