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Image of the proposed City of London Academy Shoreditch Park which is being built by Morgan Sindall Construction in Hackney

Blog: Morgan Sindall Construction – building a lasting legacy at Hackney Britannia

Hackney Council is redeveloping the Britannia Leisure Centre site to deliver a new secondary school, new homes - including genuinely affordable social rent and shared ownership homes - and a new state-of-the-art leisure centre.

Morgan Sindall Construction is the council’s construction partner, and is on-site delivering two major schemes for the London Borough of Hackney worth a combined total of circa £97.5 million.

The company is constructing the new state-of-the-art Britannia Leisure Centre under a £53.8 million contract and a new secondary school and sixth form, the City of London Academy Shoreditch Park, under a £43.7 million contract.

The projects form the first phase of Hackney Council’s ambitious mixed-use community development located next to Shoreditch Park. The new leisure centre will be located on existing outdoor asphalt courts, while the new school will be built on the site of the previous Britannia Leisure Centre site and car park.

Social value: Enriching local lives

Social value sits at the heart of Hackney Britannia. As projects central to the wellbeing and development of the community, they will deliver a long-lasting positive legacy, not only through the provision of new facilities but also via the creation of employment and development opportunities.

As the main contractor on the project, social value has been at the core of Morgan Sindall Construction’s strategy for the developments, with sustained activity in place aimed at engaging and enriching the community at all levels.

Ensuring that the local community benefits from the impact of this major project has been a key objective with the project team’s social value strategy. As such, the team has focused on connecting local people with opportunities to develop their skills, connections and experience.

The company has partnered with a number of local community organisations, including the Hackney-based Shoreditch Trust charity, which works to address inequality; supporting people who are facing life and health problems to create a happier, healthier future for themselves.

As part of this focus, a number of events have been held to boost awareness and engagement with the local community - enabling the ¬formation of valuable connections between sub-contractors and major local employers.

A jobs fair the Morgan Sindall Construction project team organised was attended by over 100 people from across the borough. Attendees had the opportunity to connect with and learn about opportunities from representatives from 12 organisations from various sectors, including GLL, New City College, and the Metropolitan Police. A number of positions were filled through the event and Morgan Sindall Construction has welcomed three new starters as a result.

The Morgan Sindall Construction team has also been actively engaging with local groups to enhance equality and diversity - progressing projects to share knowledge and skills with organisations that support women exploring careers in construction. The team has also been working with disadvantaged women in the community who may be interested in careers in the industry, supporting them as they look to improve their employability prospects.

The next generation: opening out opportunity

Engaging with the next generation and creating as many opportunities as possible for young people to share knowledge and gain valuable experience both on site and with project partners is another key objective for the project team.

The Morgan Sindall Construction team was named Apprentice Employer of the Year at Hackney Council’s Apprenticeship Awards in 2020 and a vibrant apprenticeship programme in collaboration with subcontractor partners will deliver over 16 new apprenticeship positions over the life of the project.

However, Morgan Sindall Construction has taken the apprenticeship process a step further by linking in with younger people and helping to nurture an interest in construction and the career paths available in the built environment at an early stage.

Taking the programme beyond a traditional apprenticeship-based approach, has enabled the team to reach out and engage with a wider range of younger people – students and pupils from local schools, colleges and organisations keen to explore the world of construction and learn more about what opportunities and future career paths may be open to them.

The dedicated engagement team has worked tirelessly to connect and engage with local schools and organisations – offering talks, tours, and sessions to help young learners gain a deeper understanding of how the sector works.

The team has also created a dynamic work experience programme offering students shorter, more intensive placements on the project, providing valuable real-world experience and giving them a unique view on the working environment on a major construction project.

Young people without a clear view on the type of career they might be interested in exploring at a later point, are able to glean insights and knowledge about the industry, without having to make a substantial choice in career direction – this is highly attractive to a younger audience.

A partnership with the Hackney Works team has also seen Morgan Sindall Construction arrange work experience interviews for candidates on the Hackney Works ‘supported employment programme’ for paid work experience through the Hackney 100 scheme. This programme empowers people whose route into work may be affected by mental health issues and helps candidates overcome fears and challenges which may create barriers to entering the working world.

Morgan Sindall Construction interviewed three candidates for an administration role to be supported by a 70-hour placement on site at Hackney Britannia. One candidate is already on the project enjoying the role and the business will be supporting more positions going forward.

Community: Creating connections

Over 600 local residents directly overlook the Britannia project site, so developing and maintaining clear and open communication channels to keep them informed and updated has been a key focus for the project team.

A dedicated project website updated weekly, along with regular newsletters, keeps people informed of activity on the site – with clear sign-posting to key project contacts. The website is advertised on site hoardings, with a QR code provided to enable local residents to easily access all information.

While regular meetings, to which all 600 neighbouring residents have been invited with hand delivered letters, provide neighbours with the opportunity to raise concerns or ask questions.

The project team’s extensive community engagement programme has seen them reach out to a huge cross-section of society including children, students, young people, the elderly, men, women, and those with mental health challenges.

Morgan Sindall Construction has been in regular contact with local schools, hosting a variety of engagement and information events for school management teams, parents, and students, which has helped to keep the community alive to the engagement opportunities available and up to speed with the work happening on site.

Local school children have also benefited from regular engagement sessions from the project team – outlining what’s happening on site and bringing the project to life for younger residents by hosting activities such as an art competition, with the winning entries now decorating the project’s hoardings.

Elderly residents, meanwhile, were celebrated with an ‘Elders Feast’ during the Christmas period hosted by the project team in association with Shoreditch Trust. Over a three-course dinner and a performance of carols from local school children, the project team got to know some of their older neighbours. The event catered for 40 people with different physical and mental disabilities and targeted support groups such as the Stroke Association and Starlight over 50’s who may experience some social isolation around Christmas.

Picture of attendees at the Elders Feast, a Christmas event held by the Morgan Sindall Construction team in Hackney
Image taken at the Elders Feast Christmas community event

On yer' bike: Sustainability and Wellbeing

The Britannia Project is located directly next to the Transport for London Cycle Super Highway into London. On a typical summer’s day, 5,000 cyclists use the CS1 highway, a factor that the project team needed to account for, with careful planning around logistics and deliveries.

The team worked with Transport for London and the Hackney Council Streetscene team to agree logistics ahead of works commencing and ensure the project’s impact on passing cyclists and traffic would be minimal. The team has also held numerous review meetings with the TfL and Streetscene to review and refine the project logistics to ensure cyclists can enjoy passing the project.

All the traffic marshals working on the project have undertaken the Transport for London ‘Elite Marshal’ training to better understand the Cycle Super Highway and ensure they’re able to support passing cyclists.

The team has also worked closely with specialist access company, Wheels for Wellbeing, to ensure that the site’s surrounding routes were fully accessible. This involved the project team working with the company to carry out a comprehensive audit of the site to ensure it is fully accessible. The team also had the opportunity to experience access routes from the perspective of a wheelchair user – helping to provide a new viewpoint and understanding of the challenges faced by those with limited mobility. This is part of the team’s ongoing commitment to work with Transport for London (TfL) and Streetscene to ensure the construction site boundary is easily accessible for all users.

The project’s location in the heart of one of London’s busiest cyclist commuter zones, has also given the team an opportunity to explore how this zero-emissions transport option might be used to help to reach their objective to instil sustainability into every element of the project.

Alongside supply chain partners Speedy plant hire and TNT deliveries, Morgan Sindall Construction’s project team was the first to make full use of the Cycle Super Highway adjacent to the project. The pioneering zero-emissions program using cargo-bikes to transport construction project materials to the site has helped to drive the project’s low-carbon credentials.

Due to all the positive steps Morgan Sindall Construction has made towards Transport for London's safety campaign, the project has been nominated for the London Transport Award in partnership with Transport for London and Hackney Streetscene.

Looking forward

The Britannia project is a quarter of the way through its lifecycle and already the project has made great strides in connecting and engaging the local community; creating new connections between residents, opening up opportunities for development and growth, and harnessing innovative new approaches to deliver an outstanding, sustainable development.

Going forward, the project team has a number of exciting projects it is looking to explore, to further deepen the positive impact the project is having on the wider community and ensuring that it generates a long-lasting positive living legacy that will continue to flourish long after building works have completed.

  • For more information about this news release please contact Ruth Cobban at Influential on 0151 239 5000 or email [email protected]
Bike delivery used on construction site
Example of a bike delivery which is used at the Hackney Britannia project