Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Getting down to business

2012 Olympics - London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics should bring prosperity to authorities across the UK. John McKenna reports.

Local Government has been at the heart of the 2012 Olympics ever since the five host London boroughs joined forces in the campaign to bring the Games to the capital. The Government has been at pains to point out that 2012 represents opportunities for the whole of Britain, not just east London.

While the majority of events will take place at the 202ha Olympic Park in the Lower Lea Valley, some sports will be hosted in venues dotted around the country, such as rowing at Eton and sailing in Weymouth. There is also the possibility for many of the UK's major towns and cities to host pre-Games training camps for non-European competing nations.

But what are the challenges faced by new or aspiring Olympic councils? NCE spoke to three local authorities aiming to make the most of London 2012.

London Borough of Newham Along with Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Greenwich, Newham is one of the local authorities on which attention will be greatest in July 2012.

A large portion of the Olympic Park falls within the borough, as well as the Games' two main transport hubs of Stratford International and Stratford regional stations.

Construction of the park will be carried out by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), with transport infrastructure overseen by Transport for London and, for Stratford International, Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) firm London & Continental Railways (LCR).

For the London borough of Newham and its dedicated Newham 2012 unit, the main challenge is to make sure 2012 accelerates the council's existing regeneration plans across the entire borough, rather than just Stratford itself.

This is already happening, says Newham 2012 head of regeneration and infrastructure John Herman.

'All down the western and eastern sides of the borough it is brownfield, ' says Herman.

'The need to relocate businesses [from the Olympic Park site] has stimulated regeneration of business parks elsewhere in the borough.' Other borough-wide initiatives will include the creation of temporary car parks on brownfield sites for park and ride schemes, as the Olympic Park itself is inaccessible to private vehicles - except for visitors with disabilities.

Beyond the Games and the Olympic Park itself, the key long-term driver for Newham is Stratford International station and the £4bn Stratford City development that will be built around the station, on the east side of the park.

It is vitally important, says Herman, that Stratford City avoids the same fate as Canary Wharf in becoming an inverse ghetto where its wealth fails to reach the wider community.

'Stratford City has a geographic isolation with railway lines surrounding it, ' says Herman. 'We have worked hard with the developers of Stratford City to address this, with quite a few bridges being built.' LCR, which owns the Stratford City site, has also worked to ensure that its development complements, rather than competes with, the existing Stratford town centre. Stratford City's retail sector, for example, will not be allowed to include any shops that will compete with Stratford's own array of outlets.

As and when retail firms sign up to Stratford City their training requirements and funding will be passed on to Newham Council so that it can ensure local people work in Stratford City.

Key to this idea of sustainability is the borough's housing plans. It is a planning a range of housing developments - not just affordable, and not just luxury.

'It's not just about improving our municipal housing stock, but also improving the range in the borough, ' says Herman.

'Until recently, if you were fairly successful, you couldn't move up the housing ladder within the borough. It's important for Newham's regeneration that it is home to a broad mix of people.'

Manchester CityCouncil 'The Commonwealth Games gave us a range of world class sporting facilities, ' says Manchester City Council head of leisure Eamonn O'Rourke.

The Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games laid the foundations for London's success in winning the right to host the 2012 Olympics.

Above all, it illustrated the key role that sport could play in regenerating an area of industrial decline. East Manchester was once known as 'the workshop of the world' but had been in steady decline for the past 30 years.

Large scale de-industrialisation had a huge and devastating effect on employment.

The hosting of the Games and the decision to site the stadium in this area was the catalyst needed - over the next 15 years the area is expected to secure over £2bn in public and private funding, with 10,000 jobs created.

'We made sure we designed for the next 40 years and then thought about the Games, not the other way round, ' says O'Rourke.

This meant nding end users for all the facilities before they were built - most famously handing over the main stadium to Manchester City Football Club.

Manchester is now gearing up to use its Commonwealth pedigree to attract international teams to use the city as a training camp prior to the 2012 Olympic Games. It will also host part of the Olympic football competition at Old Trafford.

However, O'Rourke says that this is still only secondary to the continual economic recovery of east Manchester.

'We are talking to LOCOG about Manchester being a holding camp, but that's not the big issue, ' says O'Rourke.

'It is how do we use the Olympics to drive development?'

Portland Borough Council/Dorset County Council All of London 2012's sailing events will be held at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy.

Built on the site of a former naval base and completed in 2005, the academy will be subject to improvement works to get it ready for the Games.

A consultancy team of White Young Green and Royal Haskoning has been commissioned by the ODA to work on design and environmental studies, prior to submitting a planning application in spring 2007. The plans are for a longer, dual-aspect slipway and more race-boat parking, lifting and mooring facilities.

The legacy of this will be to make Weymouth and Portland an international centre of excellence for sailing, says Weymouth & Portland Borough Council engineering and harbour services manager Martin Gallivan.

'In the past, local businesses relied heavily on the defence industry, ' says Gallivan. 'That's gone now, so the focus is on the marine industry.' As well as the sailing academy improvements, there are also plans for a marina that could accommodate in the region of 400 boats.

The most vital piece of infrastructure to support the Olympic events, says Gallivan, is the controversial Weymouth relief road.

'It will enable us to better accommodate the increased trafc during the Games, ' says Gallivan.

'We can maximise the use of public transport by using park and ride schemes on the outskirts of the town, with buses able to bring spectators right to the beach along less congested roads.' Despite the claims of Gallivan and his colleagues at Dorset County Council, the £77M relief road for a long time looked unlikely to get the go-ahead.

Both the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and MPs on the Transport Select Committee agreed that the road was unnecessary for the Games as the majority of visitors were expected to use public transport.

The 6km single carriageway is designed to relieve congestion along both the A354 from Weymouth and Dorchester and the A353 to the east. It has attracted heavy opposition from Green groups as it runs through an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Looking doomed, in July the road was thrown a lifeline by transport secretary Douglas Alexander. He wrote to the South West Regional Assembly to conrm that the £77M project would receive funding within the next three years, if it gained planning permission.

Dorset County Council has concluded its public consultation with one outstanding objection from the Countryside Agency. If it can overcome this and prove that the road will be ready in time for the Games, then construction is likely to start in 2008.

Gallivan says the relief road is need for more than just supporting visitors during the Olympics - it is vital to Weymouth's planned growth as a marine hotspot.

'The relief road is seen by local industry as the catalyst for change, ' adds Gallivan.

'The last ve or six miles are the ones that people remember and feel negative about. Feeling positive about getting to Weymouth will encourage more business into the area.'

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.