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In Focus: The Olympic Games in 2012: A draft construction schedule & briefing on latest issues

Constructing the facilities for the 2012 Olympic Games may seem a long way off, but already the main building and civil engineering contractors and consultancies in the construction industry are positioning themselves for an estimated £8.3BN of new construction work. As of September 2005, over £400M of work is already at an advanced tender stage with more than 200 contractors and designers having already entered the race to win Olympic work.

Maxim Recruitment and 2012 Olympic Construction Recruitment

Maxim’s recruitment consultants are already involved in the shortlisting and engagement of some of the 30,000 staff that will be needed by Olympic contractors and consultants.

The London Development Agency (LDA) has already secured planning permission for the Olympic masterplan from the councils of Hackney, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham. It has also begun preliminary work to get the Olympic Park site ready for construction, and issued numerous tenders for programme managers, project managers, designers and demolition contractors to respond to. These shortlists are now at decision stage.

The next major milestone will be the creation of the Olympic Delivery Authority, which will be created under the terms of the Olympic Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech in May. Ministers are hoping that the bill will become law in 4-6 months’ time, allowing the Olympic Development Authority (ODA) to be up and running in 13-16 months. Many of the longer term contracts tendered by the London Development Authority (LDA) and Transport for London (TFL) will come under the control of the Olympic Development Authority (ODA).

Below is a guide to the types of construction projects quantity surveyors, civil engineers, project managers, estimators, planners, site managers and the like can anticipate getting involved in; both new projects as well as the conversion of existing London venues:

  • A compact Olympic Park, just seven minutes by train from Central London will be the centerpiece of the Olympic Games and will be home to the main Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, Velodrome, Hockey Centre and three multi-sport arenas.
  • The park will also house the 2012 Olympic Village, providing accommodation for every competitor and official, with 80% within 20 minutes of their event venues. The compact green site will include a state-of –the-art media centre providing facilities for broadcast and print journalists from all over the world.
  • Wembley, Wimbledon and Lord’s Cricket Ground will undergo modifications along with Greenwich Park, Hyde Park and Horse Guards Parade to enable particular sports to take place.
  • Outside London, the rowing lake at Eton Dorney, the marina at Weymouth Portland and six of the country’s most famous football grounds will also host events
The Job of Constructing an Olympic Legacy

In addition to the construction being aimed at the 2012 Olympic Games themselves, the legacy promised after the games is intended to regenerate the area and promises post 2012:

  • The Olympic Village Polyclinic being converted into a lifelong learning centre for the east London community, with nursery, primary and secondary schools.
  • The village being converted into 3,600 apartments with half of them reserved for affordable housing. Also, another 5,500 homes will be built on site once the Olympics are over.
  • The media and press centre will become a creative industries centre for east London.
  • Four Olympic arenas will be 'deconstructed' and relocated to other parts of the UK along with the swimming pools that will be used for water polo and the 50m training pools.
  • Charities will be given the sports equipment used in the Olympic Games for free.
  • The proposed Olympic Javelin rail link (see below) which will be able to bring tens of thousands of spectators every hour to Olympic Park from King’s Cross at speeds up to 140mph, will use the new Stratford international terminal being built for the second phase of the Channel Tunnel rail link.
  • Perhaps most radical of all is the concept of demountable stadiums and pools. For all the success of Barcelona and Sydney as Olympic hosts, both cities have been criticised for the “white elephant” facilities — half empty from one year to the next — that have been left behind. To combat any likelihood of something similar happening here, the London bid has proposed that the main stadium, with an instantly recognisable signature roof, should be constructed to a flexible plan, seating 80,000 for the duration of the Games and then shrinking to perhaps 25,000 as a permanent athletics stadium. Entire facilities could be moved to permanent sites elsewhere in Britain, or even from one event to the next.
2012: Improving Underground & Rail Link Infrastructure in London

Transport wise, the construction industry will create for London an enhanced public transport system by 2012, providing the capacity to carry all athletes and spectators to and from all the venues on all days of the Olympic Games:

  • The Olympic Park will be served by 10 separate railway lines, with a combined capacity of 240,000 people per hour. There will be a train arriving at one of the three Olympic Park stations every 15 seconds.
  • On the Tube, there will be an increased service on the Jubilee line and Central line, resulting in 45% and 10% more services respectively. All Docklands Railway trains will double in length.
  • The Channel Tunnel Rail link (CTRL) will provide the opportunity to run high speed ‘Olympic Javelin’ trains between St Pancras and the Olympic Park in 7 minutes. This will provide an unprecedented experience for Olympic spectators in terms of speed, comfort and efficiency. These trains will run in addition to Eurostar services from the continent, which will stop at Stratford International.
  • The East London Line Project (formerly known as ELLX) will extend and upgrade the existing (London Underground Limited) East London Line, converting it into a new metro-style (National Rail) train service. This will provide services that will ultimately extend North to Highbury & Islington, South to West Croydon and West to Clapham Junction and in the future could potentially facilitate ‘orbital’ journeys around London.
The Olympics and Construction Jobs

The implications for the British economy are eye-watering. Current UK construction industry output is £102.4 billion a year. The Olympics will add an extra 10 per cent to that- some 30,000 construction jobs will be created; house prices in the east of London are predicted to rise by up to 15 per cent and the whole country is expected to see a tourism surge both before and after the Games.

The construction union UCATT has expressed concern that the extra jobs created could suck in overseas workers rather than bring long-term benefits to building construction workers in the UK. There will be a huge building programme and thousands of skilled construction workers will be needed. The question is where will they come from? The worry in some quarters is that some companies may hire foreign workers that may already have skills and be cheaper to pay. To this end, a sharp increase in apprenticeships is hoped for, with some bodies proposing that Olympic construction contracts only be awarded to building, civil engineering and quantity surveying companies with such training schemes.

Will Constructing Olympic Projects Be Profitable for Consultants & Contractors?

Many of the construction industry’s key players will undoubtedly have bulging order books from meeting the need to build new stadiums, arenas and lodgings for the visiting athletes, as well as improved transport links and facilities. The construction sector is expected to be one of the first industries to reflect the benefits of the ‘Olympic effect’. Pundits are already predicting major beneficiaries from the construction of infrastructure and facilities will include companies such as Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Atkins. However, the initial excitement about construction stocks could over inflate prices in the short term.

Securing an Olympic contract does not necessarily mean a firm will ultimately profit from the Games. In the past, major contractors have taken on high-profile stadium or similar types of projects for the prestige it was anticipated to bring them only to find that they ended up losing a massive amount of money on an unprofitable job. Justin Urquhart Stewart of Seven Investment Management has commented, “Companies with good project management records such as Taylor Woodrow and Balfour Beatty could do very well. I advise investors to be sceptical, however; high-profile projects are not necessarily profitable.”

Keith Clarke, the chief executive officer of Atkins, the civil engineering consultancy whose shares rose 4.8 per cent around the time of the Olympic announcement said the company is “already closely involved in a number of Thames Gateway projects to regenerate the area in which the Olympics will be held, and has played a key role in the redesign of Trafalgar Square.”

However, analysts point out that there will be many beneficiaries not listed in the UK. Among building contractors, these include Australia’s Bovis LendLease and Sweden’s Skanska.

When Are the Olympic Facilities Being Constructed?

A provisional list of milestones in the Olympic construction calendar are noted below:

DATE PROPOSED OLYMPIC DEVELOPMENT
July 2005 Appointment of contractor to run power lines in the Lea Valley
October 2005 Olympic stadium design put out to tender
May 2006 Completion of Wembley Stadium (£757M)
January 2007 Completion of dedicated busway; the East London Transit Scheme
2008 The Docklands Light Railway’s Woolwich Arsenal extension opens
December 2008 Completion of Velodrome and BMX track £37M
2009 DLR extension from Canning Town to Stratford Regional Station opens
2010 East London Line tube extension opens
February 2011 Completion of hockey venue (start date February 2010) £14.4M
July 2011 Completion of main stadium (start date July 2008) £281M
July 2011 Completion of four multisport arenas (start date January 2009) £96M
August 2011 Completion of training & Paralympic complex £6.25M
December 2011 Completion of Olympic Village
April 2012 Completion of temporary grandstand in Hyde Park to overlook triathlon finishing line £6M
July 2012 Completion of minor modifications to All England Tennis Club at Wimbledon £600,000
July 2012 Completion of two temporary beach volleyball arenas on Horse Guards Parade £73M
July 2012 Completion of minor changes to Millennium Dome to host artistic gymnastics and basketball £2.5M
July 2012 Completion of substantial changes to Lord’s cricket ground £2.6M
July 2012 Completion of 4 arenas at the Excel exhibition centre, Royal Docks £21M
July 2012 Completion of temporary indoor shooting hall at Royal Artillery Barracks £18M
July 2012 Completion of temporary Greenwich arena to host badminton and gymnastics £14M

Updates on the mammoth Olympics construction programme will be presented in future Maxim Recruitment newsletters.

Employers likely to be involved in the Olympics, or even companies worried about feeling the pinch from the loss of staff to Olympic projects are invited to get in touch by email or telephone to discuss how Maxim Recruitment can assist with both short term and planned staff attraction & recruitment.

We would welcome comments on the information provided and contributions to future newsletters and web pages from all interested parties.

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