A milestone in the delivery of the Olympic Park landscaping has been reached as a shortlist of four contractors in the running for managing the delivery of the project has been announced.
While the development was welcomed by the horticulture industry, figures reiterated concerns that the schedule had slowed with key dates for plant and tree tenders now delayed by more than a year.
The shortlisted firms up for the landscape and public realm contract in the north of the park are Fitzpatrick Contractors, Edmond Nuttall, Skanska McNicholas and Balfour Beatty.
The deadline for tenders closed on 15 January. The winner is expected to be announced in the summer, when they will pre-order trees and plants in preparation for work to start on site in 2009.
Olympic Delivery Authority
(ODA) parklands and public realm project sponsor John Hopkins said: “We have an impressive shortlist and we look forward to appointing a world-class contractor to manage the creation of a park fit for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and local people in legacy.”
The appointed contractor will select and manage a number of specialist sub-contractors to prepare 40ha of land into new open spaces, parklands and waterways.
A similar contract for the landscaping of the south of the park will be issued later this year.
HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said it was an important stage in the process but he had hoped the contract would be announced earlier.
He said: “The industry will do everything it can to meet the challenges but we wanted specifics of trees about a year ago. However, we still have time to make an exceptionally good landscape. It’s really important to get good planting in for the overall perception of the Games and that will have a knock-on benefit for the industry.”
James Coles & Sons Nurseries managing director James Coles, who is hoping to be involved with supply, said: “It doesn’t matter to me who the contractor is — it’s how they deal with managing the contract. I just want to see a list of plants and quantities, and how they’ll be purchased. If they want contract-grown it will probably be very difficult.”