At Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London, where work is under way to build a legacy from the 2012 Games, the focus has been on identifying specific measures that will answer the local community’s needs through consultation and practical thinking. Jordan Marshall reports


Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where Atkins is working with the London Legacy Development Corporation to create enduring social value for the community

“Sometimes the social value interventions that have the biggest impact are actually quite small,” says Deanne Everitt, associate civil engineer at Atkins, which has been extensively involved in the work of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) in the wake of the 2012 Olympic Games.

This potential to create a large impact from small changes is an aspect of the work Everitt finds especially interesting. And the long-term nature of the project, with its high level of community engagement, means lessons learned can be applied back to the project itself.

“In the end, it means more people are getting better-quality use out of a true community asset. That is essentially the definition of social value.”

Deanne Everitt, Atkins

She cites the example of altering walkways within Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, following consultation with the local community. The changes are set to include easier connections between the most travelled routes. “This will add so much user value – in fact its benefits could be considered as just as important to the community as those of much larger projects.”

Small interventions involving the relocation of pathways has enabled safer passage for families and easier routes for commuters as well as for those exercising or simply enjoying the parkland, she says. “In the end, that means more people are getting better-quality use out of a true community asset. That is essentially the definition of social value.”

>> An introduction to ‘Delivering social value’
>> Delivering social value: Going in deep on Teeside

LLDC research shows there is also monetary benefit in such interventions. The parkland draws 1.7 million visitors a year, while a further 5 million visit the venues around it. According to the 2021 research, this equates to £6.7m a year in recreational enjoyment.

Around half these visitors are also physically active within the park, which lowers health treatment needs and cuts the wider costs to society of inactivity. This benefit is worth a further £2m a year.

Delivering Social Value supplement cover

The full Delivering Social Value report was published in our April print and digital edition on 21 April, 2023.

The case studies will be available individually in-full online by 28 April, 2023. 

The report has been produced by Building with Atkins and Faithful + Gould

Mark Camley, executive director of park and venues at the LLDC, says the smallest of changes can have a big impact on accessibility. “You have to think about the routes and what the alternatives to steps are going to be, particularly in a path where we’ve got lots of work going on,” he says.

“If you’re taking out a route, how do you safely divert people?” Getting this right improves access not only for those with mobility issues or disabilities but also for parents with buggies.

Safety for women

Camley says another priority, on which the LLDC is working with Atkins, is safety for women and girls – particularly after dark. “We have been focusing on it on the back of the terrible Sarah Everard case and the continual attacks on women.”

The LLDC ran a consultation and hopes to work with the local community on developing a toolbox to “talk about how men behave towards women – because it is largely men – and, with the support of contractors, we are embedding those sort of messages across the park”.

“The Olympic Park project and the lessons we can take from it reach well beyond the park’s borders.”

Deanne Everitt, Atkins

In terms of physical infrastructure, lighting and routes across the park are designed with safety in mind.

For instance, to help people identify where they are in the park, all the lampposts are numbered. “If you’re worried at night and near a lamp-post, you can call the 24‑hour control room and they will be able to identify where you are from the lamp-post number, get a CCTV camera on you straight away and then send someone to that location.”

Camley says this is also a prime example of how lessons learnt can have a wider societal impact: “We’re developing a new design guide on women’s safety for the park, which we hope will be of benefit well beyond its borders.”


Social Value Live is back for 2023, with registrations now open to the free-to-attend event.

Running across two days this year’s event will cover a range of topics including designing for neurodiversity, the implications of 15-minute cities, and plenty more.

Explore the agenda and register today.

Reasonable costs

Everitt adds that projects like this shows clients social value can be delivered at every level of a development – the effectiveness of this particular intervention is because of its specific targeting at the local communities’ requirements for the asset.

There is a big focus on apprenticeships and they are seen as the go‑to option by some, for social value, but, she says, “while apprentices are sometimes the best option, at other times it might be that a road diversion, a new playground or the addition of sports equipment can have a significant impact”.

Camley says this ability to create a big impact from simple steps is what attracted him to the project when he joined the Olympic Park team in January 2012. “There was a lot of talk of the story about life expectancy – that if you got on the Jubilee line at Westminster and got off at Stratford, you lost a year off your life for every stop along the way,” he says.

“That made me think that this was actually a project that could impact people’s life chances. It posed the opportunity to influence and shape the area and make a better opportunity for people in east London.”

For both Camley and Everitt, that is the crux of the work the LLDC is doing – taking measures to ensure the very best is delivered for the local community. “The Olympic Park project and the lessons we can take from it reach well beyond the park’s borders,” says Everitt. “It shows how we as an industry can have a real and measurable impact on the day-to-day lives of the people in the communities in which we work.”

qep under cons

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park under construction. Legacy work at the park aims to help transform the lives of east Londoners


Atkins has had a long-term involvement with the London Legacy Development Corporation’s work, having won a place on the latest framework in July 2022, with the reappointment extending Atkins’ relationship with the London site to more than 20 years by the end of the contract.

The consultant started working with the London 2012 Olympics organisation in 2005, when it was announced the UK capital had been successful in its bid for the Games.

The LLDC was formed in 2012 with the aim of transforming Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park into a dynamic new heart for east London, creating opportunities for local people and driving innovation and growth in the capital and more widely in the UK.

This latest framework is the third that Atkins has won from LLDC and will run for four years. LLDC awarded Atkins single-source status as a multidisciplinary provider for a range of services focused on creating places to live, work and play as part of the transformation of the area.