The challenges of creating a destination station at London Bridge
This case study discusses the retail delivery challenges, recommendations and lessons learned during the transformation.
Prior to the redevelopment of the London Bridge station there were 27 retail units, generally located on the platforms and in the station arches.
Given the extensive footprint of the station, its remodelling unlocked huge potential to increase the size and quality of the commercial units.
The London Bridge station redevelopment team worked with Network Rail Property (NRP) to create extraordinary places where passengers can enjoy unique retail experiences in exciting, contemporary surroundings. When delivery of the commercial units is complete, London Bridge station will have 82 units made up of a range of uses from shops, restaurants and leisure uses – making it a destination station.
Delivery of such a huge retail transformation was not a simple feat; a number of challenges were encountered along the way.
At the commencement of the project a Retail Strategy was not produced or subjected to change control. This meant that the tenant mix evolved throughout the life of the project. To facilitate this, changes were required to the unit designs at an advanced stage of the project. This was further compounded by its long duration.
The absence of a controlled strategy led to a substantial volume of late change which cost more to implement at that time as a result. There was also a lack of continuity in the strategy being followed when the resource in the retail client role changed during the project.
The early production of the Retail Strategy by the retail client is required to ensure the outputs are clearly defined to maintain clear direction throughout the project. Once produced the document should be subjected to change control.
This will ensure the outputs of the project will meet the client’s requirement and be efficiently delivered while minimising the cost.
Retail unit specification
The absence of a client driven unit specification led to rules of thumb being used in the design of the building services. This resulted in generalisations being applied which over and under provided services to some units. The consequence of this was late scope changes caused by the tenant mix being developed post-completion of the detailed design.
At output definition stage prepare a multidisciplinary retail unit specification for each retail category to ensure that the building services provided enable the preferred use.
The benefits of this approach will be that the project is delivered at the lowest cost. Following this, the team letting the units would then also have clear guidance as to which retailers can occupy each unit prior to tender. This would result in fewer issues being encountered post tender of the retail units, reducing the time between unit award and opening.
Retail opening plan
The project baseline was to fit out and open all retail units after the end of the London Bridge station redevelopment project. Post commencement of the construction works, the retail delivery project was instructed to accelerate units in areas which opened to the public before the end of the project. The change to the delivery dates put additional pressure on a challenging delivery programme.
At project initiation the retail opening strategy should be clearly defined to ensure that the design and construction programme are aligned to suit the entry into service of retail units at the specified time.
This will help all parties involved with the project deliver the project in the most efficient way possible through ensuring that the contract, design and construction programme are aligned to the retail opening dates from the outset.
Retail fit out CDM arrangements
The change to the delivery dates also impacted the retail fit out, leading to a change to the CDM arrangements to accommodate the additional works being delivered within the project timeline.
As a result, it was decided to ensure full coordination of all activities on site that the duties of Costain as Principal Designer and Principal Contractor for the main works would be extended to include the retail fit out. The traditional retail fit out model is for each tenant to hold these duties however this was not deemed to be the safest way to deliver the works given the magnitude of the ongoing project delivery.
The requirements for retailers were more onerous than they were used to from other sites, such as shopping centres. However the safety performance of the project has been extremely high through the works being safely designed, planned, managed and delivered.
Retail fit out to be fully integrated into project at initiation and where the delivery of a large project is ongoing while retail fit out takes place to ensure the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor roles are held by the project rather than at retail unit level.
This model has been proven to facilitate high safety performance and will benefit all parties involved in the project through ensuring interfaces are properly managed and that everyone gets home safe every day.
Case study authored by Pete Vince, Project Manager.
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