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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.

Visit: BBC London 2012
Follow: @BBCLdnOlympics


  • Comment number 1.

    So this is not a proposal originating from the LLDC but from a bidder. On that basis there is no reason why the LLDC should comment on it. What a useless non-story! But then I suppose "no hope bid from odd company that is bound to be turned down" does not come across as quite such an interesting article even if the one written bears little relationship to the facts.

  • Comment number 2.

    Agree with dangnabbit I'm afraid. Just because there is a bid for an F1 race, doesn't mean it'll get the nod, nor that the LLDC is doing a "handbreak turn" on what it wants or its vision for the Park. I reckon this bid will not get anywhere and West Ham will get the stadium to be honest. With Silverstone having just undergone a multi-million pound upgrade, I don't see much future in an Olympic Park race. Perhaps if the LLDC chooses this bid rather than rejecting it, THEN we can talk about them doing u-turns on the legacy front. But now I feel it's premature.

  • Comment number 3.

    Folks, this F1 idea has made the final shortlist.

  • Comment number 4.

    So did Spurs' bid, but apparently that was so fundamentally flawed because of the removal of the running track that it never stood a chance. Let's hope the LLDC aren't mucking around F1 to create a false sense of competition in the same way their predecessors (and the Mayor's Office) did with Spurs.

    That said, I don't like the idea of F1 in the Olympic Park. Silverstone - a proper circuit - is where F1 belongs in this country, we don't need any more city circuits just because their backdrop looks good on TV!

  • Comment number 5.

    ...not to mention the damage to the parkland it could cause!!

  • Comment number 6.

    This is about as likely to happen as holding the qualifying for the British Grand Prix around Milton Keynes. (And it's not even April.)


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