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Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Olympics news
Richard Rogers kicked up a storm last week by claiming that he and Ken Livingstone are 'deeply concerned' about the procurement strategy being undertaken by the Olympic Delivery Agency. Rogers attacked the planned use of design-and-build contracts, and threatened a boycott, saying that he wouldn't compete for buildings that were going be be delivered by D&B.

Meanwhile his practice RRP is going to compete for the only remaining non DB contract - for the velodrome, which sees every ambitious and big-name architect in town joining the competition.

His brother Peter, who chaired the Strategic Forum 2012 task group, has told everyone to 'stop bashing' the Olympics. Effectively criticising Jack Lemley's comments that there was too much talking and not enough action going on, he said “I think what they are trying to do, which is think before they act, is absolutely right. We’re far too prone to coming up with good ideas and getting on with the building, before we have an understanding of what we want to do.”

The Treasury is playing it safe by refusing to guarantee it will offer full compensation to the Olympic Delivery Authority for the £500 million VAT bill that the body faces. However, there are rumours that Gordon Brown is to announce he has found a way round VAT on construction costs on Olympic projects in his pre-budget statement later this month. There are also whispers that Brown is planning to replace the Jowell-Caborn partnership on the Olympics, with Southampton MP John Denham apparently high on the list.

Meanwhile, the chief exec of Leaside Regeneration, Paul Brickell, has claimed the LDA is overstretched due to the 2012 Olympics effectively stopping redevelopment elsewhere in the capital. He pointed out that litle work has been done on the regeneration of the Poplar Riverside site in east London for nearly five years.

‘The LDA does seem to be overstretched because of its Olympics commitments, and so I would prefer to see the Unitary Development Corporation (UDC) take over.

He also criticised the LDA's approach to integrating industrial and residential uses. ‘Tower Hamlets Council wants to retain residents and create a mixed environment for families and younger people, and the UDC is more likely to deal in creating that mix. But the LDA’s plan is quite different – creating a grittier mix of industrial and residential uses, which the GLA is championing.

‘If family units are to live there then they are the least suitable set to sit alongside any industrial use for the site – a lot of people are questioning the LDA’s direction,’ he added.

The proposed mosque near the Olympic Park is attracting yet more controversy, as temporary planning permission to use portable cabins on the land as a mosque expired recently, and a petition opposing it was handed in to Newham.

And finally, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir Christopher Benson, has been appointed the chairman of the urban regeneration company Stratford Renaissance Partnership. He was previously chair of the LDDC, CrossRail and Costain.

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