Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Sport England


  1.1  Sport England welcomes the Select Committee's decision to hold an inquiry into the National Stadium for Athletics and the proposal to locate this at Picketts Lock.

  1.2  As the Committee noted in its press release of 20 July 2001, this inquiry follows three earlier reports of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee:

    —  Staging International Sporting Events: 3rd Report, 2000-01.

    —  Wembley National Stadium: 4th Report, 1999-2000.

    —  Staging International Sporting Events: 4th Report, 1998-99.

  1.3  We have submitted written and oral evidence to each of these previous inquiries and taken careful note of the detailed recommendations the Committee has made. Sport England has found these recommendations to be a useful contribution to informing our decision-making processes.

  1.4  In the evidence that follows, we have not sought to repeat our previous submissions and trust the Committee will refer to our past evidence for a more detailed review of the events between 1994 and 2000 that led to the proposal for a National Athletics Stadium to be located at Picketts Lock.


  2.1  Sport England is responsible for leading and co-ordinating the development of sport in England. Our work is shaped by the aim to have More People involved in sport, to provide More Places to play sport, and to win More Medals through higher standards of performance in sport.

  2.2  Sport England is also the distributor for lottery funds to sport in England. We have a statutory responsibility to comply with financial and policy directions governing the distribution of lottery funding laid down by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport under relevant Acts of Parliament. This includes the requirement that all applications for lottery funding are assessed objectively and independently against defined criteria which include:

    —  eligibility of applicant (project vehicle);

    —  expressed demand;

    —  technical feasibility;

    —  viability (economic sustainability and otherwise);

    —  value for money; and

    —  legacy for sport.

  2.3  Sport England encourages the respective governing bodies of each sport to develop strategies for their sport, including facilities for major events. Our specific responsibility is to advise applicants for funding, assess grant applications, and monitor the implementation of a project's development following the award of a grant.

  2.4  The United Kingdom Sports Council was established in 1997 with a remit that includes responsibility to "promote the UK, or any part of it, as a venue for international sports events and to advise, encourage and assist bodies in staging or seeking to stage any such events". Together with governing bodies of sport, this should provide the strategic context for attracting major events to this country.

  2.5  To assist us in determining whether an application meets the required financial and policy criteria, Sport England undertakes extensive consultation with key stakeholders and commissions expert advice on issue such as planning, design and business case modelling. We can also work with lottery applicants before and after their bids are submitted. On large projects, we specifically seek a partnership approach with all relevant parties.

  2.6  When considering applications, which involve clear national and strategic sports development issues, we will consult as appropriate with Ministers and officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

  2.7  Every grant award we make is subject to standard terms and conditions laid down under the Financial Directions. On large-scale projects, it is our standard approach to agree a brief, budget and development milestones for the project—usually incorporated in the form of a Lottery Funding Agreement (LFA). This is to safeguard the grant and to ensure appropriate accountability for lottery funds. We then rigorously monitor the project to ensure it meets the development milestones set out in the terms of our grant. This includes a requirement that facilities provide equal opportunities for all the community.

  2.8  Failure to comply with standard terms and conditions provides Sport England with the right to demand repayment of lottery grants.

  2.9  We hope the Committee will concur with our belief that in our dealings with the National Athletics Stadium project at Picketts Lock, we have at all times acted professionally and accountably, in accordance with our duties, and sought to provide the maximum support that our remit allows to the project.


  3.1  Sport England has long supported efforts by UK Athletics (UKA), DCMS and UK Sport to bring the World Athletics Championships to the UK. It is one of the world's leading sporting events and our successful staging of the event would create many positive spin-offs for British sport.

  3.2  It was initially intended that these Championships would be held at the English National Stadium proposed for Wembley.

  3.3  In order to provide the best possible viewing characteristics for both football and athletics, an innovative design solution was developed involving the installation of a platform within the stadium on the few occasions—the World Athletics Championships and a possible future Olympic Games—that it would have been required for athletics. The cost of this design solution was estimated at £17.9 million (65,000 seat capacity) or £23.4 million (80,000 seat capacity).

  3.4  In reviewing the initial proposal, backed by the Football Association, Rugby Football League and UK Athletics that Wembley be a multi-purpose national stadium that could be adapted for optimum use by football, rugby league, and athletics, the previous Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee concluded:

    "We believe that the platform solution proposed by the Wembley design team is a commendable and innovative solution to the requirements of the design brief and could well provide a template for future projects"

  CMS Select Committee, Wembley National Stadium: 4th Report, 1999-2000, paragraph 70

  3.5  On 22 December 1999, the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Chris Smith MP decided that the decision to include athletics within the National Stadium project at Wembley was no longer suitable. He based this decision primarily upon his assessment of a report from architects Ellerbe Becket raising concerns about the stadium's suitability for Olympic Games use. He personally agreed with the FA the removal of athletics in return for a £20 million payment back to Sport England.

  3.6  Following a subsequent consultation exercise led by Sport England, UK Athletics and other key stakeholders endorsed by the Secretary of State's decision and confirmed they no longer wished to use the National Stadium for Athletics, effectively withdrawing their request that Sport England require WNSL to meet its Lottery Funding Agreement requirement that the new Wembley be capable of staging athletics and hence a home for the World Athletics Championships.

  3.7  It was therefore proposed that the National Stadium accommodate football and rugby league only, and that the £20 million payment to Sport England negotiated by the Secretary of State be returned once the financing proposals for Wembley have been committed.


  4.1  UK Athletics now needed to identify an appropriate alternative venue for a National Athletics Stadium capable of hosting the World Athletic Championships. Both they and DCMS believed this needed to be in London on the understanding that the IAAF wished to bring the World Athletics Championships to England's capital city.

  4.2  Sport England was requested to assist in the search for a site in London and a long list of 14 sites was drawn up and assessed against criteria agreed by the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), UKA, UK Sport, British Olympic Association (BOA), Government Office for London and Sport England. The assessment process (but not the final decision) was facilitated by Sport England.

  4.3  The Sport England assessment report drew the following conclusions:

    —  due to the early stage of development, there was a lack of certainty about the project being viable or deliverable at any of the sites;

    —  preliminary cost assessments suggested that the aspirations of UK Athletics were unlikely to be achieved within the projected budget available (£60 million lottery funding)—the costs were assessed to be in the range £90-100 million;

    —  the long-term viability of the project was considered questionable.

  4.4  At a subsequent meeting held on 15 March 2000, a shortlist of five sites was discussed. The prospective sites were Hillingdon House Farm, Hackney Wick, Crystal Palace, Twickenham and Picketts Lock.

  4.5  The advantages and disadvantages of each site were identified but the report did not include a recommendation, the final decisions being for UK Athletics. It was accepted by UKA and the DCMS that Sport England could not be a party to the decision, as an independent assessment of the grant application would need to be made by Sport England at the relevant time.


  5.1  In late March 2000, UK Athletics selected Picketts Lock as its preferred site for a National Athletics Centre. Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) is the owner of the Picketts Lock site. There were a number of key factors that influenced this decision:

    —  the size of the site (125 acres) was considered sufficient for the project;

    —  the favourable planning context, when compared to the other four "finalists";

    —  the ability of the LVRPA team to deliver the project;

    —  potential for capital and revenue funds from LVRPA;

    —  the regeneration status of the site, and thus further potential capital funds under Objective 2; and SRB;

    —  proposals from Middlesex University to create a new campus in the Lee Valley, thus providing athlete accommodation for the event.

  5.2  On 3 April 2000, a panel consisting of UK Athletics, UK Sport and the DCMS Secretary of State attended the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) in Paris to present the UK bid, based on a new stadium at Picketts Lock for the World Athletic Championships in 2005. The IAAF formally awarded the World Athletics Championships to London, based upon a proposal to build an athletics stadium at Picketts Lock. The IAAF made this award on the basis that UK Athletics would demonstrate clear progress on stadium development by October 2001.


  6.1  From the outset, it was recognised that an injection of funding was required to scope in further detail the feasibility of developing a National Athletics Stadium at Picketts Lock.

  6.2  As neither DCMS or UKA were able to fund this work, the LVRPA submitted an application for lottery funding to Sport England in May 2000 to support the development of a project brief for a National Athletics Stadium.

  6.3  At its June 2000 Council meeting, Sport England members awarded a grant of £240,000, the balance of £165,000 being met by the LVRPA, towards initial feasibility studies.

  6.4  This grant facilitated a review of the project brief in conjunction with the LVRPA, UK Athletics (UKA) and the British Olympic Association (BOA) that would assess viability, design, cost, planning, business plan, transport and environmental issues.

  6.5  At this stage, it was still unclear to what extent Picketts Lock would be a part of the BOA's plans for London to stage a future Olympic games, should it mount a successful bid. Finding a stadium suitable for a possible future Olympic Games had been one of the main reasons behind Chris Smith's decision to announce the removal of an athletics capability at Wembley. During these feasibility studies, the BOA chose to withdraw their interest in Picketts Lock being developed as a potential Olympic venue for athletics, citing concern that their requirement for a larger stadium would add unacceptable planning delays to the project timetable.

  6.6  These studies indicated to LVRPA and UKA's satisfaction that a National Athletics Centre at Picketts Lock was feasible, however they did draw attention to the considerable challenges that still had to be addressed before the project was to be a viable recipient of considerable lottery funds.

  6.7  These included addressing an estimated capital funding gap of £18-£23 million and the long-term viability of the stadium. One area of concern at this early stage, highlighted by the Select Committee in its previous inquiries, was the extent to which UK Athletics was proposing to transfer regional athletics events to Picketts Lock.


  7.1  In November 2000, Sport England considered an application for further lottery funding from the LVRPA toward more detailed studies into the financial and technical viability of the project being proposed.

  7.2  The studies were intended to establish in far greater detail the long-term viability of the project and enable Sport England to take a rational and informed view of the substantive application it expected to receive for a funding total of £67 million (less feasibility costs) towards the project in spring 2001.

  7.3  The application set out that in the six month period November 2000 - May 2001, detailed work was to be undertaken on developing the project's viability in the following areas:

    —  more detailed work on stadium design and costs;

    —  preparation of an outline planning application (with related environmental, socio-economic and transport impact studies);

    —  development work on the business plan—capital and revenue funding; and

    —  long-term viability formalisation of the structure of the final project vehicle (applicant) event profile.

  7.4  At this early stage, Council members still had concerns (first identified by the Sport England assessment of all available sites in London) that there remained major issues that had to be addressed if the project was to be successful.

  7.5  However, they were also mindful of the expressed demand for the project from UK Sport, UK Athletics and the DCMS as well as the strategic importance of the UK having a suitable venue to host the World Athletic Championships in 2005.

  7.6  For this reason, it was felt prudent to make a further grant of £1.33 million (and not the £2.6 million originally applied for) towards further feasibility studies to determine the viability of the proposed Lee Valley National Athletics Centre at Picketts Lock.

  7.7  This funding was very specifically results driven. Eleven specific development tasks were attached to the Lottery Funding Agreement entered into with LVRPA. These were to be completed by the 31 May 2001 and defined key milestones against which Sport England could assess the project's progress towards viability. These 11 development tasks set clear objectives against which would assist Sport England make an informed decision as to whether it was happy to commit substantial lottery funding to the project in the spring of 2001.

  7.8  The costs being incurred at this stage were included within the total allocation of £67 million that had been earmarked within the overall lottery fund for the National Athletics Centre (comprising the £20 million to be returned from Wembley, a further £40 million for the stadium and a £7 million budget allocation for an athletics high performance centre).


  8.1  In the period November 2000 to May 2001, Sport England continued to engage in extensive monitoring of the project's progress set against the 11 development tasks of the LFA.

  8.2  This included attendance at the following meetings which were established to guide and steer progress:

    —  A weekly "client" (LVRPA) progress meeting. These meetings were also attended by representatives of UK Athletics, the London Borough of Enfield, and occasionally, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

    —  A fortnightly "technical" meeting. These meetings were also attended by representatives of UK Athletics, the London Borough of Enfield and the LVRPA. The technical meetings considered issues such as design and, where appropriate, involved external consultants working on the project.

    —  Lee Valley Stadium "Forum" meetings. These were chaired by either the Secretary of State or Minister for Sport, Kate Hoey MP and involved a wide range of stakeholders with a role to play in the project. Approximately four meetings took place.

  8.3  By attending these meetings and through an ongoing dialogue with the applicant, Sport England ensured that it upheld its statutory duty to monitor the spending of lottery funds and provide appropriate advice and support to the LVRPA and UKA on the many significant issues faced.

  8.4  We were heartened to hear UK Athletics, in their evidence to this Committee in March 2001, commend the independent advice and supportive approach Sport England had provided to the project in this period.


  9.1  There was also encouraging evidence in this period that the Government was providing real and wholehearted support to efforts to address the viability problems the project needed to overcome.

  9.2  In evidence to this Committee on 21 March 2001, the then Secretary of State, Chris Smith MP, made the following comments with regard to the project:

    "We are working very closely together with Sport England and with UK Athletics in ensuring that we can have a very good stadium to host the Games, a smooth process of running the Games and that everything will be put in place between now and 2005 to ensure that happens. I am confident that that will happen because all the fundamentals are right. The location has been identified, the feasibility work on the design is well advanced and hopefully tomorrow we will hear from the architects with the public unveiling of the design and the costs. Already substantial areas of funding are earmarked. Of course there is some further work to be done. That would be unusual if at this stage that was not the case, but I am absolutely confident that we are properly on track".

  CMS Select Committee, Staging International Sporting Events, Third report 2001, Volume II, col 450.

    "I am, as I indicated earlier on, absolutely confident that we will be able to ensure a good, world class athletics facility at Picketts Lock. That remains my belief".

  CMS Select Committee, Staging International Sporting Events, Third report 2001, Volume II, col 500.


  10.1  On 14 May 2001, Sport England received an application to fund an athletics centre at Picketts Lock from the newly formed National Athletic Centre Joint Venture Consortium (NACJVC). The members of NACJVC are Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, London Borough of Enfield and UK Athletics.

  10.2  This was a substantive application for £65.43 million funding (£67 million budget allocation less feasibility costs) from June 2001 through to the project's ultimate completion in December 2005, when the stadium will be completed in legacy specification (see below) after the 2005 World Athletics Championships (WAC).

  10.3  The application outlined the following objectives for the National Athletics Centre project:

    —  to provide a venue for the 2005 World Athletics Championships;

    —  to provide the permanent National Centre for Athletics, both in terms of defined competition and world class needs;

    —  to provide a High Performance Centre for the training of elite athletes;

    —  to provide the basis for local athletics club and community development programmes;

    —  to contribute towards the local health and fitness strategies, the alleviation of social exclusion, and regeneration of the area.

  10.4  In order to achieve these objectives, the current Project content was defined as:

    —  in 2001 WAC mode 43,000 seats will be provided (3,000 devoted to VIPs and media). 13,000 will be temporary and uncovered;

    —  post 2005 WAC, in legacy mode 20,000 covered seats will be available, 13,000 temporary seats will be removed, a further 10,000 seats (5,000 each on home and back straight stands) will be screened off;

    —  a "legacy" high performance centre incorporating;

    —  a six lane indoor 200m track;

    —  a six lane 60m sprint track located within the 200m track;

    —  indoor throws area;

    —  outdoor throws area;

    —  an outdoor 400m training/warm up track; and

    —  provision for sports science and medicine facilities.


  11.1  Following the receipt of the NACJVC application, Sport England officials undertook a detailed assessment of its content.

  11.2  This covered two specific requirements:

    —  Progress made in meeting the 11 development tasks that had been written into the Lottery Funding Agreement of November 2000.

    —  Assessment against the standard criteria which are applied to all lottery applications—viability (financial and otherwise), technical feasibility, value for money, eligibility/project delivery, expressed demand and legacy for sport.

  11.3  A detailed assessment of the application was put to Sport England's Council and Lottery Panel in June 2001. Members identified several outstanding areas of concern regarding the viability of the project that still needed to be addressed before the application could meet all the funding criteria. The following categories were of particular concern:

    —  capital costs (funding gap and under-writing);

    —  planning (transport, green belt, section 106, planning risk);

    —  legal eligibility (project vehicle);

    —  long-term legacy (revenue income); and

    —  sporting legacy (impact on regional athletics facilities across the UK).

  11.4  There was also an on-going concern, not specific to the application, as to whether the Championships, for which the stadium was to be constructed, would actually go ahead as it still needed to be resolved who would sign the Event Organisation Agreement with the IAAF underwriting the games.

  11.5  A brief summary of each of these concerns is set out below:


  12.1  As of June 2001, the design consultants estimated that the project would have a capital cost of £97 million (this does not include the cost of a station being constructed on site and associated pedestrian access). The Council and Panel was concerned that the actual costs could rise beyond this as experience with other major projects being constructed to tight deadlines demonstrated.

  12.2  The NACJVC application itself identifies an £8 million capital funding gap in the identified budget: It set out the potential capital funding identified as:

Lottery funding (stadium—£60 million, high class performance centre—£7million)
£67 million
Lee Valley Regional Planning Authority
£5 million
Modernisation fund (Government funding)
£8 million
Regeneration fund (LDA—£4 million, Objective 2 status—£2 million)
£6 million
Naming rights
£3 million
£89 million

  12.3  There was however considerable uncertainty as to the extent to which the above capital funding projections would actually be realised. The following points still needed further clarification:

    —  Reassurance was required of the exact terms and conditions attached to the modernisation funding the NACJVC seeks from Government. This includes details of how £8 million of match funding would be procured to trigger a modernisation fund payment of £8 million.

    —  Confirmation that the figures identified for regeneration funding would be forthcoming from the relevant agencies (London Development Agency—£4 million towards transport infrastructure and land fill; Objective 2 funding—£2 million)

    —  Evidence that the £3 million estimated for stadium naming rights was achievable on the basis that the IAAF usually require a "clean stadium" for the WAC and the reduced event profile of the stadium.

  The application gave no indication as to which organisation was prepared to underwrite the capital funding gap.


  13.1  Planning is a crucial issue for the LVNAC project. The LVNAC is required to host the August 2005 World Athletic Championships. This is a short time scale for preparing and progressing an application for a major stadium development, especially given that the design team was not appointed until January 2001 and the site is located on Green Belt land giving rise to a major national planning policy issue. The following specific planning issues still had to be addressed:


  The Transport Strategy is the most controversial aspect of the planning application. The pre-application consultation process revealed a clear difference of opinion on the extent to which the provision of a new station at Picketts Lock is "essential" or just "desirable". Both the London Borough of Enfield and the Greater London Authority consider it ideal that 80 per cent of visitors travel by public transport to the site. The only way this target can be achieved is through a new station being built on the site.

  It was still open to question whether the Greater London Authority would support the planning application unless it is clear that proposals for a new station are being progressed in parallel.

Green belt issues

  The LVNAC application is contrary to national planning guidance on developments affecting green belts. Whilst the proposal replaces an existing building, the proposal goes beyond the footprint of the existing building, and is of significantly greater mass. PPG 17 states that for a stadium proposal to meet the "very special circumstance" all alternative locations need to be exhausted. It is not clear how rigorous consideration of alternative sites has been in planning terms.

  Whilst the very special circumstances of the project may be sufficient to outweigh loss of part of the green belt, it is unlikely that the Secretary of State (DTLR) would want to allow the London Borough of Enfield to determine this application given this conflict with national planning guidance; a view supported by Counsel's opinion William Hick QC. The costs and timetable prepared for the project and contained within the lottery application do not include allowance for any major planning delays such as a public inquiry.

Section 106 Agreement

  The London Borough of Enfield had not at this time agreed an outline Heads of Terms for the Section 106 agreement adding considerable concern to the future costs and delays the project might encounter. There was already a funding gap that could be added to as a result of the Section 106 Agreement.

Project planning risk

  Not surprisingly given the above issues, the LVRPA, in their covering letter accompanying the application, requested that Sport England assume planning risk for the project (this means that failure to achieve planning permission will not trigger repayment of any grants under any Lottery Funding Agreements).

  It is standard practice for lottery applicants to assume planning risk associated with their projects as risk is a crucial factor in establishing a project's viability. Both Wembley National Stadium Limited and Manchester City Council accepted planning risk with the National Stadium and Commonwealth Games Stadium respectively.

  13.2  It is a key point of principle that Sport England does not assume planning risk for any project. It would be a dereliction of our duty to commit any more of up to £65 million of lottery funding to a scheme which may fall due to planning issues and for this money to then be unrecoverable.


  14.1  In order for any applicant for lottery money to be awarded funding, Sport England needs to be satisfied that the applicant is capable of meeting two key conditions:

    —  to carry out its obligations under the lottery funding agreement; and

    —  to repay lottery funds upon the occurrence of an event of default.

  14.2  Up to this stage in the project's development, the applicant has not been required to repay any lottery funding it has received should the project not proceed, this being the very nature of feasibility funding. Beyond this stage, any future monies committed under the substantive application would be awarded on the clear instructions, in the form of the Lottery Funding Agreement, that failure to see the project through to completion would result in repayment to Sport England.

  14.3  The Project Consortium (LBE, UKA and LVRPA) have established that their relationship in respect of the project will be, in the first instance, governed by a Joint Venture Agreement and then through the creation of a project delivery vehicle (either a limited liability partnership or a limited company) in which all of the entities in the Project consortium shall take a share.

  14.4  Due to the size of this national project, none of the partners felt comfortable under-writing the project's costs:

    The scale of the development means that the potential financial commitments and liabilities are too large to be borne or underwritten by any of the existing project partners. In essence this is a national project. The project partners . . .are not in a position to underwrite the project as a whole.

    UK Athletics, March 2001

  14.5  Sport England still needed to seek legal clarity should a default occur in respect of a future lottery agreement that the project consortium will be collectively and individually responsible for the repayment of grant.


  15.1  The business plan produced as part of the application had identified that the running costs of the stadium and centre would be in the range of £843,000 to £1.03 million per annum. The "base" case for stadium income was estimated at £450,000.

  15.2  There were also more optimistic readings of the potential revenue stream, but these figures made it imperative that the long-term income stream of the stadium needed to be underwritten.

  15.3  While the London Marathon Trust have agreed "in principle" to give revenue support to the running of the National Athletics Stadium after the 2005 World Athletics Championships, the NACJVC still had to secure a clear commitment from the London Marathon Trust that it would be a long-term partner of the centre, and the exact amount it would contribute.

  15.4  The LVRPA, LBE and UKA have stated that they will contribute £212,500, £130,000 and £100,000 per annum respectively in regards to revenue funding. However, in each instance, this obligation still had to be approved by the respective councils/board of the three entities and there was no indication as to the duration of this support if so approved. As with all Lottery projects, as part of Sport England's financial due diligence responsibilities, checks are undertaken to confirm the ability of various revenue underwriters to meet their obligations.

  15.5  At this stage of the project, none of the applicant bodies were prepared to underwrite the revenue funding for the legacy period and had not identified any alternative funding streams.


  16.1  As previous Select Committee inquiries have noted, there has been widespread concern at the sporting legacy that Picketts Lock would secure once the World Athletics Championships event has taken place.

  16.2  There has been considerable debate as to the events which UK Athletics can commit to Picketts Lock. The UK has a strong record of athletic events being held across the regions and there has been concern that a large number of these may need to be switched to the proposed National Athletics Centre.

  16.3  The lottery application, for which UK Athletics is a partner, notes that a "consortium approach" to the apportionment of major events post 2005 has been discussed between the major stadium owners throughout the country.

  16.4  In its November 2000 application a more comprehensive event programme for athletics at Picketts Lock was submitted than that in the final application. UKA having since reverted to a regional distribution of events which has underpinned the sport thus far in the absence of a National Centre.

  16.5  The event commitment to the LVNAC is going to be reduced as a result of the consortium approach and inevitably leads to questions on the need for a National Athletics Centre as the sport is already adequately provided for by regional stadia. It was still to be made clear how the proposed consortium agreement would work in practice. A further issue in the distribution of events around the country is the level of commitment obtained from event holders to host events at LVNAC.


  17.1  The IAAF makes it a condition of awarding a major event that its costs are under-written. This is known as the Event Organisation Agreement (EOA). For instance, 2003 World indoor championships are to be under-written by Birmingham City Council. UK Athletics had hoped that the Greater London Authority (GLA) would have agreed to sign this early in 2001.

  17.2  Subsequently, the GLA announced that they did not feel in a position to underwrite the Games and a debate has taken place as to who will sign it. While it is not usual practice for the Government to underwrite a national sporting event, UK Athletics Chief Executive, David Moorcroft, was optimistic that the Government would perform this role:

    What the Secretary of State has assured us is that there will be an underwriting of that contract and he will take the lead in terms of ensuring that it is in place sooner rather than later.

    CMS Select Ctte, Staging International Sporting Events, 3rd Report, Volume II 2001 Col 93.


  18.1  The NACJVC application was considered at a Sport England Council meeting on 4 June 2001 and a further Lottery Panel meeting on 18 June 2001. The application was considered with two key factors in mind:

    —  The need to assess this application against the standard criteria all lottery applications face.

    —  The strategic importance for British sport of staging the World Athletics Championships.

  18.2  Sport England's members were acutely aware of the importance of this decision. We have always been mindful and agreed fully with the substantive recommendation of this Committee in March 2001 with regard to the future progress of the National Athletics Centre:

    We have no doubt that a viable new national stadium for athletics would represent an important addition to the elite sporting facilities of this country. We hope that the Secretary of State's confidence will prove justified. However, there are important issues that remain to be resolved with regard to the Picketts Lock Stadium project. Satisfactory solutions to the problems of underwriting, cost control, risk management, timetable guarantees and long-term viability must be firmly in place before Lottery funding is granted. Sport England must judge the project by its usual criteria for capital projects and must also bear in mind the need to consider both the issues relating to the 2005 World Athletics Championships and the distinct and strong case for a National Stadium for Athletics.

    CMS Select Cttee, Staging International Sporting Events: 3rd Report 2001, Vol 1, Col 148.

  18.3  The substance of this recommendation was reflected at Sport England's Council meeting on 4 June and Lottery Panel meeting on 18 June. It was at the Lottery panel meeting that it was agreed that with the information available to it, the panel did not feel that it could support a positive approval for the NACJVC application at its joint meeting with the Council on Monday 2 July.

  18.4  The panel recommended that a final decision be deferred until Sport England had had an opportunity to consult with the Government on matters relating to the wider context of the application.

  18.5  In light of this decision, the Chairman of Sport England sought an early meeting with the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, to bring to her attention the strong reservations of the Council and Panel with regard to the lottery application that had been submitted to fund a National Athletics Stadium at Picketts Lock.

  18.6  The Chairman subsequently met with the new Secretary of State and explained the concerns that the Council had about the application not being one which the Council could at that time approve, as when it was considered according to the same key lottery criteria as all other applications, it could not address all of Sport England's policy and financial directions—including eligibility, viability, sustainability, value for money, and financial need.

  18.7  The Secretary of State agreed in discussion with Trevor Brooking that Patrick Carter, who had already been asked to undertake a review of the National Stadium at Wembley, should also review the Picketts Lock project to see if the significant issues which had been raised by Sport England's assessment of the application were ones which could be successfully addressed.


  19.1  On 2 July, the Council approved this approach and the Secretary of State subsequently announced the terms of reference for the inquiry, which had been agreed between herself and the Chairman of Sport England:

    Sport England have concluded that they are not able yet to provide lottery funding to develop the Lee Valley National Athletics Centre and have asked Patrick Carter, who is conducting the review of the national stadium project, to carry out a separate review of the project with the following terms of reference:

    "In the light of the Government's manifesto commitment to ensure that a first-class athletics stadium is available for the World Athletics Championships in 2005, to assess whether the Lee Valley National Athletics Centre project can be funded and managed in its current format and if not, what alternatives might be feasible. The review should report its findings within seven weeks".

    Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, 2 July 2001.

  19.2  Patrick Carter commenced his review with immediate effect. Sport England officials have continued to provide Mr Carter with all the advice and support he has required to undertake a thorough review of the project as well as a detailed assessment of the options open to the Government should the project not be able to proceed at Picketts Lock.

  19.3  Sport England received Patrick Carter's review into Picketts Lock on 31 August 2001. This report reflected and endorsed our strong reservations as to the viability of the project and whether it could demonstrate clear value for money when set against the many other demands on the Lottery Sports Fund. It also highlighted other important issues not specifically relevant to our processes, but that still put serious question marks over the project's viability. These included the transport infrastructure surrounding the site and finding local facilities for athletes' accommodation.

  19.4  Sport England have since been engaged in discussions with the Secretary of State with regard to the findings of the review and whether it would be possible to overcome the very real dilemma that the project just could not be delivered without undertaking an unacceptable level of risk and expenditure of public funds.

  19.5  It was initially intended that the Sport England Council would be able to make a final decision on the application at its Council meeting on 1 October 2001. However, there has understandably been a slight delay to the proposed timetable, partly due to the tragic events in the United States of 11 September 2001.

  19.6  Sport England will ensure that the Committee is kept abreast of any important developments that occur in the coming days ahead of its oral evidence sessions.

15 October 2001

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