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2012 Olympics - key decision today

LONDON'S BID to host the 2012 Olympic Games reaches a key stage today when four of the capital's boroughs consider the planning application for the main Olympic park.

The multiple application - to be presented to all boroughs at a single sitting - is thought to be the largest of its kind, dwarfing even that for the Greenwich peninsula and Millennium Dome.

The proposal will set out plans for the Lower Lea Valley in east London, which will include the main Olympic stadium, aquatics centre and cycling centre.

Planning approval would strengthen London's bid to host the Games, said EDAW vice president Jason Prior, who is leading the site masterplanning team. 'If London can say it's got planning permission for the Olympics, then it puts us ahead at the start of the process, ' he said.

Prior leads the team of consultants that has developed the masterplan for the area. Other members include consultants Buro Happold, Mott MacDonald and Symonds, plus architect HOK Sport and project manager Mace.

The four London boroughs considering the application Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Newham. A decision on whether the redevelopment can go ahead will be made later today.

London Olympic bid kick-starts plans to develop Lea Valley

If you believe the hype generated by the Olympic machine, legacy use has to be one of the key components of any bid to host the Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not want to leave a trail of white elephants around the globe after each Games.

But successful legacy use of Olympic sites is something of a holy grail. Sydney has yet to find a satisfactory long-term tenant for its Olympic stadium.

And there are already questions about how Greece will use some of the venues it built for last month's Games in Athens.

In its bid to host the 2012 Games, London, along with New York, Paris, Madrid and Moscow, will be out to show that the Games will have a positive, long-term impact.

London's bid is expected to put great emphasis on the regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley when it is submitted on 14 November.

The London Development Agency was developing a plan to regenerate this rundown part of east London even before the Olympic bid. Adding the Games into the equation has given the idea extra impetus.

Jason Prior, vice president of masterplanning consultant EDAW, leads the team that has developed plans to transform the area. 'We have always been focused on the point that the regeneration of the Lea Valley is a key imperative, whether we get the Olympics or not.'

'We started with a regeneration strategy, but the Olympic bid has been the catalyst, ' he said.

If London's bid succeeds, this vast industrial wasteland centred on Stratford will be transformed into the main Olympic park. Over time, the site will become a residential and commercial quarter in a new urban park stretching along the cleaned-up River Lea.

For the Games, the site will incorporate the Olympic Village, an Olympic stadium, the swimming centre, and a velodrome.

Substantial infrastructure, such as the planned £1bn East London Line, will also be built to connect the site to the rest of London.

Civil engineers will be involved in burying overhead power lines in new tunnels, reprofiling and cleaning up the River Lea, and building massive new bridges to link together the different areas of the site.

The post-Olympic legacy plan has permanent venues like the stadium, swimming centre and athletes' village forming part of a new residential and commercial quarter.

It is hoped the stadium will find a permanent tenant in the shape of a local football team, while the athletes' village will be converted into housing.

Venues like the swimming centre and velodrome are expected to remain as local and national amenities, while others with less obvious long-term use will be dismantled to make way for housing, retail and commercial developments.

The last 12 months have been hectic for the EDAW-led team of consultants, which includes consultants Buro Happold, Symonds and Mott MacDonald, architect HOK Sport and project manager Mace. The team came together to produce the masterplan for the huge 700ha site soon after the government announced its backing for the London bid.

'We were set up in the first week of August 2003, when the Olympic bid company was little more than three people and a mobile phone, ' explained Prior.

A team of around 200 consultants was quickly pulled together to produce an initial bid document by November, so that it could be translated into the requisite languages ahead of formal submission to the IOC in January.

Since then the team has been detailing what is thought to be the biggest planning application ever submitted in Britain. The application will be decided today, following a series of meetings between the London 2012 bid team and planning officials from the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest, Newham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

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