BBC BLOGS - Adrian Warner

Mixed messages over Olympic legacy?

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Adrian Warner | 11:36 UK time, Friday, 22 June 2012

Artist's impressions of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2013

Have Olympic legacy chiefs done a massive U-turn - or maybe a screeching handbrake turn - on their goals under new boss Daniel Moylan?

Every time I have spoken to the London Legacy Development Corporation (previously known as the Olympic Park Legacy Company) in the last two years, I've been told that they are hoping to build a wonderful, environment for families to live in after the Games.

The talk has been of "terraced housing, mews housing and duplex apartments within tree-lined avenues, intimate streets and open squares."

There are plans for the Park to have an entertainment district near the Olympic Stadium, which will stage concerts as well as sport, and the Orbit Tower is likely to be a big tourist attraction.

But legacy officials have told me before that they want the entertainment part of the Park to have the relaxing atmosphere of London's South Bank with its theatres and cultural activities.

So, I'm very confused today as I read in a national newspaper about leaked plans for Formula One motor racing in the Park.

One of the bids for the stadium is said to involve a company keen to run a world championship race through the Park.

Chief executive Andrew Altman didn't mention this to me when I took a boat with him the other day through the Park. The talk was of a calm, green environment for east Londoners.

And, of course, I asked him about the stadium plans and Formula One wasn't mentioned.

So, I can only assume it's all part of the new regime under Boris Johnson-appointed Moylan, who has taken over from Baroness Ford as LLDC chair in the last few weeks.

Altman has also just announced he is leaving in August so it's all change at the Corporation, which is run by the Mayor.

On the surface it sounds like an ambitious, exciting project and a good idea to grab newspaper headlines.

But how practical is it to run an annual F1 race through an area where they want to build more apartments and houses after the Games?

It works in Monaco, the motor racing fans will say. But of course, Monte Carlo is a different kind of place.

The last time I was in Monaco when the world athletics championships were awarded to London, a British tax exile told me that anybody who wanted to live there had to prove that they could pay all of their bills WITHOUT working.

So, if they don't like the Formula One week, most of them can jump on a flight to their second, third or fourth, residence near a beach somewhere.

The last time I looked, very few people in Stratford could afford to do that.

Anybody wanting to buy a flat or house on the Park may also think twice when they find out that every year, their peace is going to be upset by noisy motor racing cars.

And there's plenty to homes to sell yet.

Now, this could all be just headline-making. Under new leadership, the Corporation is maybe keen to show it is cracking on with the legacy as we get close to the Games.

But that would also be a change of policy.

Baroness Ford's tactic was always to keep commercial confidentiality while she was negotiating deals and not to make a lot of public noise about bidders until contracts were signed.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company was always very careful not to talk about bidders.

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New legacy chief "shatters" political consensus

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Adrian Warner | 12:23 UK time, Thursday, 10 May 2012

Daniel Moylan

Daniel Moylan is the new head of the London Legacy Development Corporation.

Boris Johnson's rushed appointment of a new Olympic legacy chief has shattered the political consensus around the 2012 Games.

Baroness Ford, the chair of the Legacy company which has already been successful in securing a future for most of the Olympic Park, is widely respected across all parties for the calm, but tough way, she has negotiated deals with private and public companies.

Ford, a Labour peer who was appointed in 2009 by the previous Labour Government, was expected to stay in control until after the Olympics and Paralympics.

But, fresh from his Mayoral election victory last week, Johnson has appointed Conservative councillor Daniel Moylan as head of the London Legacy Development Corporation.

I understand Ford is very disappointed by the decision which was made public before she or her chief executive Andrew Altman had a chance to inform staff.

She told me: "I would loved to have finished the job I started and closed out the deals on the Broadcast Centre and the Stadium. That will be the job of the new chairman. There's a huge construction job to be done on the Park after the Games."

I understand Ford is now keen to leave straight away, once a handover period has taken place with Moylan.

The 56-year-old has been deputy chairman of Transport for London (TfL) for the last four years.

He is also expected to advise the Conservative Mayor on aviation and stay on as a councillor and TfL board member.

Insiders have told me they are very surprised that Johnson hasn't gone for somebody from the construction industry, since there is a huge amount of building planned on the Park after the Games, from new homes to leisure facilities.

The Park is not expected to be opened to the public until a year after the Games finish.

I understand any deal for West Ham to become a tenant in the main stadium is expected to be concluded by October when the planning application for rebuilding the stadium must be submitted.

The football deal has dominated media coverage but the deals done by Ford and Altman on other aspects of the Park are far more significant in terms of jobs and legacy.

Baroness Ford

Baroness Ford has been widely respected for the way she has negotiated deals for the Olympic Park

The future of the Velodrome, the Aquatics Centre and the Handball Arena have all been finalised and the Orbit Tower is set to become a major tourist attraction.

The deal which allows the swimming centre to be subsidised by concerts and sports event in the Handball Arena is one of the most creative decision in the 2012 story.

It will mean local people will be able to swim in the pool for a reasonable price.

The Broadcasting Centre, often the hardest building to redevelop after the Games, has attracted interest from three major commercial organisations.

If a deal is done on that soon, as expected, it will be far more important for local jobs than whether West Ham decide to rent the stadium or not.

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Londoners are ready to put on a great Olympic show

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Adrian Warner | 09:26 UK time, Thursday, 29 December 2011

Olympic Stadium. Getty Images

From "a hotchpotch of abandoned factories and muddy soil to a carefully landscaped park of modern, sporting venues". Getty Images.

I've been going to the Olympic Park in east London every week for the BBC for close to five years now.

I've seen it grow from a hotchpotch of abandoned factories and muddy soil to a carefully landscaped park of modern, sporting venues.

The other day something quite striking happened down there.

Instead of having to put on a hard hat and bright clothing for a building site, I was allowed to walk in normal clothes across the Park.

I took a 15-minute stroll from the main spectators' entrance by the Westfield shopping centre, past the Aquatic Centre and main stadium and over to the Handball arena.

Suddenly, the Park had the feel of the six Summer Olympics I have covered before.

I could imagine this site in Stratford as the focus of the world, like I'd experienced in Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing.

In that moment, I had the vision of thousands of spectators walking to the venues with excitement in their steps and journalists racing ahead of them with deadlines and stress in their bellies.

For the first time I could imagine the Olympics in my own back yard. More and more Londoners and Britons are going to feel the same way in the next few months. The juggernaut is just around the corner.

Now, it's my job to question all the decisions taken around the Games and to make sure they are all in the interests of taxpayers and Londoners.

That's going to get more important, especially with more public money going into the "private company" called LOCOG which is organising the Games.

I'm going to continue doing this during the months leading up to the Games. I'm not going to conduct the cheerleading. I'm actually quite proud of the fact that my nickname in the LOCOG offices is "Citizen Warner"!

But, I am also not going to forget what a wonderful few weeks we have ahead of us in the summer.

The world will come to London and I am convinced Londoners will put on a great show and give people a warm welcome.

I know some Londoners will complain about the Olympic lanes, the inevitable transport problems and parking restrictions. We've got months of controversy ahead, I'm sure.

But when the event starts, the atmosphere will be magnificent and we will remember it for the rest of our lives.

Why am I so confident? Because I remember the warmth of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 when the Olympic bid was not even a sparkle in the eyes of Lord Coe.

The packed Manchester crowds were brilliant. They knew their sport and they cheered everybody on, whatever their nationality. I expect London to be even better than that.

I also think the way tickets have been snapped up by the public, that the 2012 atmosphere will be better than Sydney in 2000 and Barcelona in 1992. The Games I remember with the most excitement.

I don't think 2012 have done everything right. I still believe they could have got more tickets to more people in London and the UK. I'm not impressed by their merchandising and I think there are serious errors in some of the transport plans.

But I really believe, whatever the arguments about money and plans, that the British public will deliver some magnificent memories in July and August.

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