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Aquatics Centre costs up

Design delays and problems maintaining internal air temperatures could increase the cost of the London 2012 Aquatics Centre by £11M the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) said this week.

But the overall cost of building Olympic facilities is expected to fall by £29M, it said.

An extra £11M may be needed for the Aquatics Centre “to ensure the project remains on time and to standard”, said the ODA.

Delays caused by design changes to the roof are largely to blame it said. “The roof hit the overall project quite substantially,” said ODA chief executive David Higgins. “It was quite late and that delayed everything.”

Fears that the air temperature inside the Aquatics Centre will be too cold for Olympic standards are also to blame. Extra cash will be needed to meet the “strict requirements for athletes regarding [air] temperatures”, said Higgins.

There are not expected to be problem with the venue’s water temperature.

The ODA said the anticipated final cost of the programme is now £7.232bn, compared with an estimate of £7.261bn in June this year. “The forecast is now back to the original budget that was announced in 2007,” said Higgins.

“Crucially, it is a debate around the architectural desirability of having it, not the operational necessity of it”

David Goldstone

Cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) including the removal of the stadium’s outer “wrap” and cuts at the Eton Manor wheelchair tennis venue saved around £20M (News last week). Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said the CSR saving would have “little material impact” on the programme.

The anticipated final cost of the Games was also affected by a £33M cut in spending on transport projects. There was a £24M increase in transport operating expenditure. There was an £8M increase in spending on land and infrastructure at Stratford City including land purchase costs and a new pedestrian bridge.

The ODA also made an extra £10M payment to delivery partner CLM, which Higgins attributed to “an incentive arrangement where they get a small portion of the savings they make”.

The extra payment to CLM is “due to the strong progress of the project against agreed milestones and savings achieved,” said the ODA.

The loss of the Olympic Stadium’s wrap saved £7M, but private funding could still deliver it, said the ODA. Higgins said the wrap is “not technically required to protect against wind conditions”. “We are looking at alternative sources of funding and if they can be found it can still be delivered,” he said, adding that any alternative source would have to be from the private sector.

Government Olympic executive director of build and finance David Goldstone refuted suggestions that the Stadium has lost its unique selling point. He said it will look “cleaner” without the wrap. “Crucially, it is a debate around the architectural desirability of having it, not the operational necessity of it,” he said.

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