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Westfield works all hours to finish White City scheme

Westfield has a 7,500-strong team working around the clock at its £1.7 billion White City redevelopment in London to ensure the scheme is completed on schedule after the developer admitted final works on the scheme were not all “going smoothly”.

The developer has said it is still committed to meeting the deadline on the project, which is due to be completed before the end of next week.

Westfield director of design and construction Keith Whitmore said: “I couldn’t sit here and say all is going smoothly. It is going well. People are on target and we have a good turnout of shopfitters to achieve that.”

He added that Westfield was monitoring every shop fit individually and meetings were held with contractors twice a week to ensure they were on track to meet the opening deadline.

It also has extra staff on hand to help out on any units that may have fallen behind schedule.

On completion, the project is expected to have far exceeded its original budget. This is due to early changes made by Westfield after it took over the building of the scheme from Multiplex in August 2006. At the time of handover, the project carried a price tag of £680 million.

But Mr Whitmore defended the developer’s decision to request variations on the scheme and said the primary reason it kept the design-and-build management in-house was to ensure it had the flexibility to make such changes.

Questioned on how the suppliers felt about the variations, he added: “I think it is about employing a specialist supply chain which has got the flexibility to work with you.”

When the White City site, known as Westfield London, is completed, the developer will move its focus to the Stratford City project in the east of the capital.

Despite widespread concerns about the economic climate, Mr Whitmore said Westfield was confident it would have little or no impact on its redevelopment work.

‘WE NEED CONFIDENCE OF DELIVERY’

Westfield has played down rumours that many suppliers on the White City site will be transferred to jobs on its Stratford scheme.

Keith Whitmore, Westfield director of design and construction, said it was not a “foregone conclusion” that suppliers working on the White City project would also be used for the Stratford scheme.

He added: “The marketplace is the marketplace – we have worked with a number of contractors on both [the Westfield] Derby [scheme] and Westfield London. Severfield-Reeve did the steel frame for Derby and they are also involved with Westfield London and Stratford. But there are probably only four or five contractors in the UK which could take on that capacity, so you will see some uniformity across our projects.

“I would very quickly add that it is not a foregone conclusion those working on Westfield London will be on Stratford. We have to have three bids for every element of the project and we need confidence of delivery as well as confidence in the price.”