Contractors voice concern over 'bundling' approach on £150m deal for Olympic Park

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) is offering a single contract of up to £150m for the long-term estates and facilities management of the Olympic Park after the 2012 games.

The 10-12 year contract, valued at between £50m and £150m, is being offered as a package incorporating landscape and buildings maintenance in the park's south plaza, north park, aquatics centre, multi-use arena, multi-storey car park, site operations centre and the ArcelorMittal Orbit.

An OPLC representative said the company would accept applications from consortia or partnerships as well as single organisations that could subcontract. The deadline for expressions of interest is 2 March and only three to six providers will be invited to tender.

However, leading grounds care contractors aired their conern at the decision to offer the deal as a single package, saying the grounds maintenance side of the contract could lose its importance.

Ground Control senior contracts manager Neil Huck said the short timescale and limited number of invited participants would force many landscape maintenance firms out of the running.

"This is purely aimed at the multi-million pound companies and is really discouraging to smaller firms," he said. "The large facilities management companies have all of the divisions they need to fulfil the contract already so it puts them in the driving seat and landscape maintenance will be down the bottom of the pile as usual."

Huck, who is also technical director at BALI, said the association may try to help organise a consortium, but it would be difficult in only four weeks.

ISS managing director of landscaping Phil Jones said the single-package contract had largely been expected but was a worrying trend. "Corporate, local authority and central Government contracts are increasingly being let on a bundle basis rather than on a single service basis," he added.

"In terms of management efficiency and cost synergies it makes sense, but I am concerned that these large contracts dilute the importance of grounds maintenance as a single service."

Jones said it was a wake-up call to grounds maintenance firms relying heavily on single contracts. "If they want to remain in their market they need to start partnering with people who deliver a wider range of services," he added. Jones said ISS would consider applying for the contract.

But Glendale executive chairman Tony Hewitt was wary of partnerships where "green" work made up less than half the contract. "Building maintenance is a different type of work," he explained. "You are dealing with people who don't understand the parks and gardens side of the business. It loses importance because it's just another element of a larger contract."

The successful applicant is expected to be appointed by early 2012. Email to register interest.

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