Olympic Legacy

I’ve made a point about not blogging about the Olympics, partly because I feel too involved and partly because Paul Norman does such a good job. But I couldn’t let Bob Neill’s hugely welcome announcement of half a billion pounds to transform the games’ venues and park pass by.

When Margaret Ford arrived at OPLC there were three huge challenges. The first was to secure the start up running costs of the organisation and a chief executive and quality team – and that was accomplished rapidly. The second, much larger one, was to secure the land debt free. That she accomplished this was an incredible achievement although characteristically she credits CLG civil servant Philip Cox.

If this sounds like me sucking up, wait for the next bit.

The third challenge was to secure the capital necessary to achieve the quality of site preparation required to deliver the social, environmental and economic legacy as well as to release the latent value of the land. In this time of austerity that seemed like a step too far and alternative plans to mortgage the site to a private capital seemed unavoidable. To secure £500 million for transformation from the CSR is nothing short of unbelievable.

I’ve no doubt that the arguements were strong, not least the poor value for money attached to bringing in private capital too early and in a period of depressed values. I’ve also no doubt that the money has effectively come from a variety of pots including, perhaps, the LDA and the ODA budgets. But the money is now sitting in the right hands and I for one am hugely relieved. For the first time I can now believe that the regeneration legacy, the outcome from the Olympics I care about most, is achievable.

I’m going to go for as many tickets as I can afford in the Olympics ticket ballot announced this week but it is the regeneration of East London and its convergence with the wealthier west that is the big lottery prize for me.

Regeneration & Renewal‘s Fair Games campaign aims to raise awareness of the regeneration pledges made by the authorities responsible for delivering them, and the extent of progress towards meeting them. For more details, click here.

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