According To Edwards ... An Olympic legacy for the amenity trade

One year on from the Olympics, Defra has published a document called The Legacy: Sustainable Procurement for Construction Projects. The Olympics were a great success, not least for the landscape they were set in and for the way in which that landscape was delivered.

The greatest legacy for the amenity trade would be learning the lessons from that delivery process and embedding them into the way the industry functions.

Perhaps it's now time to ask how the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) got the plants it wanted. There's some useful work to be done here, producing a document telling those who fund landscape projects what they can do to ensure they get what they desire. I'm already certain what it would reveal.

Early on the ODA appointed a "landscape champion"who had real authority and responsibility within the delivery team. Such a champion can stop landscaping from being sidelined, and budgets and specifications being cut. If the client has no real interest in getting a quality landscape then it will have no interest in appointing a landscape champion, but if it has then it's essential.

I believe the ODA also ring-fenced its landscape budget. Landscaping inevitably falls at the end of a project, by which time other elements have overspent and louder voices will argue for funding originally intended elsewhere, so a ring-fenced landscape budget is essential.

The ODA made sure the specifications it used were clear and unambiguous. It communicated with nurseries and asked how best nurseries could supply what was needed. And finally, it placed forward procurement contracts for the stock it wanted and gave nurseries time to grow it.

It took a change of approach on the part of the ODA, but the end result spoke for itself. Had it let the market behave as it usually does, I'm sure the plants would have cost less. But the point is, they wouldn't have done what was originally envisaged of them.

Tim Edwards is chairman of Boningale Nurseries.

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