Careful planning and prioritisation will be needed to ensure that development projects vital to revitalisation of run-down areas of the Thames corridor are not hijacked by Olympic schemes, warns Eric Sorensen, chief executive of development agency the Thames London Gateway Partnership.
Sorensen will be keynote speaker at the Civil Engineering Forum dedicated to construction and engineering for 2012 on the afternoon of Tuesday 22 November.
'It's an issue of scale, ' he says. 'There's a lot to do in the Thames Gateway as well as for the Olympics and there needs to be discussion now as to how resources are divided. The great risk for Gateway projects is the delivery programme.' Sorensen warns that the focus on the Olympics 'means other projects may be put back.
'There are important schemes like the Docklands Light Railway extension to Dagenham Dock from the eastern part of the Royal Docks. There's been a lot of discussion about extending it, but it's not yet in the Olympic programme. Barking and Dagenham have significant programmes to improve their town centres.
'Funds have been applied for and it would be frustrating if they're not forthcoming.
Major housing-led regeneration is planned for Woolwich town centre, and that must maintain momentum. Another key project is greening of the Gateway.
There will be a number of projects that'll provide additional amenity, environmental diversity and improvement, and reduce flood risk.
'Yet so far we don't have the resource planning picture on that scale. We need clarity from government as to what its objectives are - we need to make sure that the Olympics isn't the only show in town.' By November, Sorensen expects the interfaces and integration between Olympic and Thames Gateway projects to be clearer, enabling him to set out a clearer plan of action.
Looking more closely at the Olympic site itself, director of the Olympics Joint Planning Authorities Team Janet Thomas will speak about the way the Olympics fit into regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley.
Thomas says that, building on the pioneering collaboration of local boroughs to consolidate the site and agree planning permission for the Games, and to press ahead with vital preparatory work, a sustainable development strategy is being drawn up. It will address transport, waste, energy, building use and maintenance up to and beyond 2012, as well as job creation.