Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive intends to make sure South-east's subcontractors win work on London 2012 projects

The Olympic Delivery Authority has said subcontractors in the South-east will play a key role in the building programme for the 2012 Games.

David Higgins, chief executive of the ODA, said at last week's Building/Property Week Six Years and Counting conference, hosted by Clifford Chance in Canary Wharf, that he wanted to support local businesses.

He added that the ODA's delivery partner needed to be well connected in the South-east's construction market. He said: "The delivery partner has to have local knowledge and has to understand the local supply chain."

The ODA is in the process of selecting the delivery partner from a shortlist of four, which includes US firm Bechtel and three consortiums that are mainly made up of UK firms.

Higgins said: "We will have people on the ground actively trying to get local businesses involved."

The building programme is already employing predominantly local subcontractors, Higgins said. He cited the example of tunnelling work being undertaken to put power lines underground. Of the 220 firms engaged on the job, 190 had London postcodes, he said.

The ODA is set to appoint a panel of lawyers to help it keep the peace between the parties involved in construction.

Higgins said there was considerable potential for disputes: "We will have so many contractors and subcontractors on a very complex site, with limited access to site." The legal panel will attempt to prevent disputes breaking out and to quickly resolve any that do occur.

Higgins urged the government to follow the ODA's lead and use more small businesses on public sector projects.

The ODA is expected to appoint the delivery partner in August.

It is holding talks with the four shortlisted candidates under the European Union's "competitive dialogue" procurement process.

The four firms in the running for the delivery partner role are:

Last week the ODA appointed two contractors, Morrison and Edward Nuttall, for the £200m of remediation and demolition work needed on the Olympic Park.

The ODA took over responsibility for the work from the London Development Agency after a decision was made to put a single client in charge of both clean-up and building projects.

The chief executive of the British Property Federation has urged the private sector to take a more active role in London 2012.

Liz Peace said developers and investors should be asked whether the facilities would be viable after 2012. This would help the Games' legacy.