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Talking Point

Early stakeholder engagement and target setting is the way forward for major projects as witnessed on the Olympic Park enabling works

The enabling works project for the Olympic Park has now substantially completed the complex challenge to regenerate 2.5km2 of brownfield land spanning four London boroughs in East London.

The Park will house five major venues for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and a sustainable legacy programme is centred around it.

From its inception in 2006 this major project has successfully delivered to programme and a £400M budget, extensive site clearance, demolition, ground and groundwater remediation, and creation of the land platform upon which the venues and supporting infrastructure are being rapidly constructed.

The project has significantly benefited from the early setting of clear, far reaching objectives and performance criteria with robust, end-focused exit strategies for soil and groundwater remediation, which have been vital in setting and maintaining direction for the teams.

“Developing early and close relationships has been absolutely essential”

Early engagement across the decision making process and interaction between all the design consultants, contractors and verification teams has helped to maximise the reuse of site derived materials and reduced, as far as practicable, environmental impact to the surrounding community.

Developing early, and close, working relationships with stakeholders and regulators, from start-to-finish, has been absolutely essential and allowed the teams to work with and influence land use design concepts, maximising the benefits of hard cover, balance land use against the level of contamination and include or make use of the variations in the overlay (cover system) works as part of the environmental protection.

The project has significantly benefited from the maintaining of a small dedicated team of Environment Agency and utility company staff on the site.

The phased approach to the design and construction zones across the site, has allowed a sound understanding of the site conceptual model to have been developed, which has been a key driver in maintaining:n pragmatism in defining remediation targets.

  • the ability to consider and take into account actual measured impacts.
  • an ability to change what we do in response to information gained.

Such a high profile project attracts the best and has allowed the project teams to retain key staff and leadership continuity.

I have learned that the client and its representatives must be regularly seen to be actively involved on site and leading Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and environmental issues and discussions.

Engaging the workforce in regular HSE site tours is also important and site workers must be encouraged to report incidents and near misses.

Following the enabling works substantial completion it continues to be essential to pro-actively enforce and oversee the follow-on-project works where they penetrate the remediated formation surface and maintain the legacy of the environmental protective measures previously installed.

The past four years have illustrated that creativity, flexibility and adaptability are critical. An integrated design and implementation programme is the “only way to go”.

Developing and maintaining an internet based project global GIS document handling and distribution system is also essential not only for internal project communication but also allowing stakeholders access has had significant benefits.

And ultimately the impossible is possible, even when presented with an immovable deadline.

  • Jan Hellings is project sponsor for enabling works at Olympic Delivery Authority

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