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Counting down to 2012

At the halfway point, Olympic Delivery Authority chairman John Armitt looks back at how far his project has come.

It seems a long time since London won the bid to host the 2012 Games. The opening ceremony on 27 July 2012 seems far less distant. In fact we are exactly at the halfway point in the journey to London 2012, a useful point to recognise what has already been achieved and focus on the challenges ahead.

After its creation in spring 2006 the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) got the project quickly out of the blocks. A world-class team was recruited, including CLM as delivery partner, and critical revisions to the Olympic Park plans were agreed. The approved planning application, for a more compact Olympic Park better integrated with the Stratford regeneration, was among the biggest in European history.

The London Development Agency sensitively relocated businesses and people to hand the Olympic Park to the ODA in summer 2007.

Cleaning and clearing the Olympic Park got into full swing and set new sustainability standards, with 90% of demolition materials recycled or reused and 500,000m3 of contaminated soil cleaned and reused on site to date.

Early site preparation enabled an early start to construction on the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre. A prudent lifetime budget was agreed and an unprecedented procurement exercise ramped up to achieve value for money by appointing the best contractors on collaborative NEC contracts. Contractors are selected or shortlisted and designs agreed for the Stadium, Aquatics Centre, Velodrome, International Broadcast Centre/Main Press Centre (IBM/MPC) and Olympic Village. Most of the ODA’s 800 suppliers are SMEs and a ground-breaking “online dating agency”, CompeteFor, is opening up supply chain opportunities.

The Olympic Park has already changed beyond recognition. Pylons have gone from the skyline with power now running through two new tunnels beneath the site. The Olympic Stadium is taking shape and the Aquatics Centre and Olympic Village are coming out of the ground.

Seventy-five pence in every pound the ODA spends is going on the regeneration of the area around the Olympic Park. This is already delivering infrastructure such as energy networks, sewers, roads and bridges.

In Weymouth and Portland the first venue has been completed on time and on budget delivering an elite and recreational sailing facilities.

An economic legacy is also being delivered of UK-wide business benefits and jobs and training opportunities for local people and the unemployed – a shot in the arm for the UK economy in tough times.

Of course the current economic climate has impacted on the elements of the project that included private sector investment and finalising the funding for the Olympic Village and IBC/MPC media facilities is a priority.

We are working with our contractors to maintain the high health and safety standards set on the Olympic Park as the workforce doubles this year to 6,000, vehicle numbers increase and the big build gets higher. The biggest challenge is complacency. Standing at the half way point, we are on solid footings after a good start and are firmly focussed on the challenges ahead.

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