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Plan to scale down Olympic stadium is 'unsustainable'

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THE ENGINEER responsible for Australia's Olympic stadium said this week that London's plan to radically scale down its main stadium after the Games is unsustainable.

Stephen Morley has called for an urgent reappraisal of the brief before the contract to design and build the £450M stadium is advertised next month.

London's bid envisaged converting the 80,000 seat Olympic stadium after the Games into a 20,000 to 25,000 seat athletics stadium for London and home for one of London's rugby clubs.

But Morley, who designed Sydney's Stadium Australia to be cut down from 110,000 to 80,000 seats, claimed that London's stadium would be left with disproportionately high running costs.

'The sheer scale of the change in shrinking from 80,000 to 25,000 has never been done before. An 80,000 seat bowl looks different in every regard to a 25,000 seat bowl, ' said Morley.

'Creating a structure that looks good in both modes and functions well is extremely difficult. The thing that needs looking at very carefully is whether having the stadium at that fi nal size is the right thing for long term sustainability.' He said that even though seating could be removed, it would be almost impossible to reduce either the size of the building envelope or drainage and other infrastructure.

The difference in roof area between an 80,000 seat stadium and a 25,000 seat venue would be 3ha-3.5ha, he said.

Morley predicted that owner Sport England would struggle to raise revenue to meet upkeep costs unless at least 40,000-seat capacity was provided.

The London Development Agency said that the decision to scale the main stadium down from 80,000 to 25,000 seats had been based on careful study of projected population growth up to 2025.

'A lot of attention has been focused on the size requirements for legacy uses so that we're not left with an over-capacity white elephant, ' said a spokeswoman. 'We believe the size is right.' orley dismissed this approach as too short-sighted.

'Size doesn't in itself change the risk of something becoming a white elephant. It can be a white elephant if it's too small to satisfy long term functionality.

'The stadium should be designed with the whole of its 50-year design life in mind, ' he urged, adding that development in east London is expected to increase the capital's population by as much as that of Leeds.

'If that's the case, 25,000 seats isn't adequate. The stadium would need 40,000 at least. We need to look ahead to 2060-70.

'If you are looking at a facility used by the community the best thing is to make it adaptable.

Adaptable venues are always more viable fi nancially - they can be used to host football, athletics and concerts. The important thing is not to limit its uses.'

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