Posts Tagged Olympics

Olympic legacy: will it bring real regeneration?

There’s a certain amount of angst in the property world over the plans for the Olympic legacy.

The legacy vehicle – charged with securing new homes, jobs and opportunities once the Games are over – has been unveiled. Unlike previous agencies, such as the Docklands Development Corporation, the Olympic legacy body won’t have its own planning powers and won’t therefore have the final say in what happens on the sites.

Instead it looks like being a toothless quango, negotiating with the different boroughs involved. It would be more honest to have either a full-blown exectuive agency; or a partnership between the existing local authorities. There’s little point creating another quango, when it can’t actually get the job done. And it’s still not clear how or to whom it will be accountable.

Unsurprisingly some of the property developers would prefer an executive agency approach. No faffing around with councils wanting them to consult or fund community benefits then! There’s already concern that some of the so-called Olympic boroughs will get little or no lasting benefit.

But as Roger Madelin of Argent St George (developers of Kings Cross Central and Birmingham’s Brindley Place) says: ‘I may be in the minority on this issue but, even after a long and very expensive process at King’s Cross, I do believe there has to be some kind of accountable local democracy involved. I don’t think putting in planning powers across the whole thing and railroading the process through is good in the long run.’

It’s not just poverty that crushes communities – it’s a sense of total powerlessness in the face of major change, change that affects their area but in which they have absolutely no say. If regeneration is to mean anything, it must mean involving local people and their elected representatives.

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London Borough of Weymouth

The first venue for the London 2012 Olympics has been completed – and it’s not actually in London.

The Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy will host the sailing events.

The Today programme has just reported that it’s designed to provide a “lasting legacy”. Much better than the other kind….

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Hackney rediscovers free speech?

Dave Hill has the latest on the Ian Sinclair saga.

This is the case of the author banned from launching his book about Hackney in Hackney libraries because of his scepticism about the benefits of the 2012 Olympics for the borough.

As the only Olympic venue for Hackney was to be the media centre, and that now turns out to be under threat, Sinclair is not alone in his views.

Anyway, after Labour Hackney disgracefully banned him, Lib Dem Islington stepped in , and made it clear he’d be welcome here.

Now it seems Hackney have been shamed into backing down.

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The price of gold…

There’s been a lot of coverage of what gold medal winners could now earn through sponsorship. But what does it cost to get a gold medal? Anywhere between £2M and £20M, according to this report.

Perhaps with property values and pension funds uncertain, we should be putting our money into sporting futures. Cycling seems to be a good investment…..

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Swimming into history

The Games are over, but the buildings remain.

The Bird’s Nest stadium will be the iconic building of the Beijing Olympics, but I thought the glow-in-the-dark water cube looked stunning too.

The London 2012 Aquatic Centre is intended to be an iconic design but has already run into budget problems, adding to the headaches for the Games planners.

Meanwhile, if the amazing performances within the cube have tempted you into the water, Islington can get you into swimming history, even if your style is more paddle than medal. Ironmonger Row Baths in Finsbury have been listed by TimeOut magazine as London’s best pool for ‘swimming in history’.

You can even unwind with an authentic Turkish bath, described by the Evening Standard as “the best value-for-money stress-busting technique in town”. So expect Tessa Jowell along any day now….

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Guardian blog 22 August

My latest Guardian blog, covering the Olympics, Tory legacies and Equitable Life is now online.

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Islington’s Olympic links

Amid all the Olympic coverage, I came across this fascinating reference to the first time Britain won 5 gold medals in a day.

That was 100 years ago, at the 1908 London Olympics – and the medals were for boxing. Most interesting to me, the venue was the Northampton Institute in Clerkenwell, which became City University (still based in Northampton Square).

A century on, another Islington-based university is playing an Olympic role. London Met’s Science Centre is a designated training facility for basketball and fencing.

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