Laing O'Rourke Appointed for Here East's Olympic Legacy Project
Spearheading the creation of a world-class creative and digital cluster in London, iCity has announced that Laing O’Rourke will begin transforming the former Olympic Park Press and Broadcast Centres on 20 October 2014
iCity - a joint venture between specialist real estate investment and advisory company Delancey and Infinity SDC, a leading UK data centre operator – has appointed Laing O’Rourke to create a home for world-leading creative and digital companies in the heart of east London. Laing O’Rourke will also provide facilities management during the construction phase of the project.
Here East intends to offer the most advanced digital infrastructure in Europe, using the connectivity and facilities created for the Press and Broadcast Centre during the Games. Laing O’Rourke will redevelop the existing buildings of the media complex on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford to create a world-leading center of innovation, education and enterprise.
Here East’s unique location will provide a range of flexible spaces and will bring together global companies alongside east London’s most innovative start-ups. The former Press Centre will be ready for occupation in early summer 2015, while Loughborough University will open its brand new London campus to its first cohort of students in October 2015.
The former Broadcast Centre will feature office and studio space, and will undergo a phased delivery, with the complete space ready for occupation in early 2016. BT Sport is already broadcasting live premiership football directly from Here East.
Responding to the London 2012 Olympic Games legacy requirements, Laing O’Rourke will work closely with Here East and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to ensure at least 25 percent of people working on the project live in the four neighbouring boroughs; with a new apprenticeship created for every 20 people employed.
Commenting, Gavin Poole, CEO of Here East, said: “We are delighted to announce the start of construction works to develop this unique digital and creative cluster at Here East. It will deliver thousands of employment and training opportunities, starting with the construction phase through Laing O’Rourke. We are excited that we are now entering the final phase of delivering this economic legacy to London and the UK.”
Jamie Ritblat, CEO of Delancey, said: “Here East is a unique development that will provide a dedicated home to the UK’s fast-growing and world-leading creative and digital industries. We are thrilled with the support that LLDC has provided us with and look forward to continuing to work closely alongside them to deliver this important legacy. The ambitious timetable for transformation works demonstrates both Delancey and LLDC’s joint commitment to supporting innovation, employment and enterprise across the Olympic Park.”
Laing O’Rourke CEO Anna Stewart said: “Here East is not only creating a world class digital and creative hub but will also deliver immediate economic benefits for East London and the wider UK through the creation of skilled employment and training opportunities during the construction phase. Laing O’Rourke is incredibly proud to be returning to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to help bring about this vision.”
The construction industry: Facing a mental health crisis
Data collected by the Office for National Statistics has shown that more than 2,000 construction workers took their own lives in 2017. Other findings from a study conducted by the Glasgow Caledonian University show that the problem is getting worse. From 2017 to 2019, the number of suicides per 100,000 rose from 26 to 29, with people in the construction industry three times more likely to take their own lives in 2019 compared to other industries.
Why is the construction industry experiencing a rise in mental health conditions?
Bill Hill, Chief Executive of the mental health charity Lighthouse Club, says that one reason for the rise in mental health conditions is due to financial pressure. He said that it is a “huge factor” in construction, “causing stress, depression, and anxiety”. He added that several self-employed workers are “brilliant tradespeople but don’t have the education”, which may be helpful in running their business.
“They win a project, someone pays them a big invoice but they don’t put money aside for VAT [and then] the taxman asks for payment so they get finance. It tumbles from there. Sole trader-style business management should be taught at apprenticeship level”, Hill said.
According to Lighthouse Club, the industry is “hugely fragmented” and “difficult to reach over half of the 2.8mn self-employed construction workers. “Some larger companies have done a fantastic job on mental health”, Hill says. “But only apply their programmes and workshops to their own staff. Until you get to the huge mass of very capable tradespeople who are getting no input, one of the biggest problems is awareness”.
How can awareness of mental health be improved in the construction industry?
Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Council, Graham Watts, says that the industry has made positive steps forward on mental wellbeing but that “it is still not doing nearly enough” to support staff in this area.
Looking at how awareness of mental health can be improved in the industry today, Watts said: “Today, I would hope it is easier to be more open about mental health. I’m impressed by the leadership that is being shown by some companies – for example, Tideway, where Chief Executive Andy Mitchell has ‘mental health first aider’ immediately after his email sign-off – but it is still only being exhibited by the best of the best”.
Lighthouse club has also launched a campaign for construction workers to raise more awareness of mental health in the industry. Named “Help Inside the Hard Hat”, the campaign makes all workers aware of the services that Lighthouse Club offers, “regardless of employment status”, the charity says. Lighthouse Club is taking particular care to encourage contractors to put up posters on sites and ensure that they reach all workers, including the self-employed.
The charity also has a free app that allows workers to access mental health information and resources. Lighthouse Club is also improving the availability of information by working with partners such as the Safer Highways charity and Glasgow Caledonian University. But the charity is working on improving the understanding and destigmatisation of mental health in the industry one step at a time. Hill said: “The first thing is suicides,” says Hill. “That is the number one benchmark of all the work we are doing – are we reducing suicides in the industry?”.
If you are a construction worker - or someone you know is and you need support, you can call the Lighthouse Club helpline on 0345 605 1956.