Construction firms working in the Olympic zone could face tough security measures, including restricted site access in the 18 months prior to the Games.

Left to right: Graham Watts, Matt Nichols, Jeremy Sumeray and John Priestland

Left to right: Graham Watts, Matt Nichols, Jeremy Sumeray and John Priestland

The warning came during an Olympic round table seminar for Building, hosted by Matt Nichols, business development director of materials firm Wolseley and a member of the Strategic Forum's Olympic taskforce.

John Priestland, Atkins' director for the Olympics, said that construction could be more complex because of the need to ensure terrorists could not get into the site.

He said: "The Olympic village could face a ‘lock-down' up to 18 months before the games start. This could create huge problems in gaining access to sites for staff and materials."

In the wake of the 7 July bombings in London, officials have said security issues will be paramount during and in the run-up to the Games. An Olympic security group has already been assembled to liaise between the police and Olympic officials.

Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, said the threat of terrorism had increased the costs of delivering the Athens Olympics hugely in the last 12 months of construction.

Security concerns could also necessitate the creative use of off-site fabrication. Nichols said: "This is an opportunity for the industry to be open-minded and not to stick to normal construction methods. It should embrace new ways of working such as off-site construction. If we don't take advantage of these opportunities, the Games won't be delivered on time."

The Olympic village could face a ‘lock-down’ up to 18 months before. This could create problems

John Priestland, Atkins

Industry figures at the seminar also urged British firms to target the 2008 Beijing Games.

Priestland said: "All focus is on the Olympic Games in London 2012 but couldn't UK companies be learning now by getting involved in Beijing 2008? If British companies can win contracts in Beijing or the Commonwealth games in Australia, then by the time it comes to London, we will be seen as experts."

The panel called on David Higgins, the chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, to take note of Heathrow Terminal 5 style procurement ideas.

Nichols said effective planning over material supply would be key. He said: "What is needed is a co-ordinated approach and a commitment from the industry at the outset to adhere to, and practise, integrated working."

The seminar was attended by Daniel Ringlestein of architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Don Ward, the deputy chief executive of Constructing Excellence in the Built Environment, Jeremy Sumeray of materials firm Lafarge, Max Wade of multidisciplinary consultant RPS, and Gareth Evans of architectural software provider Graphisoft.