Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
3 MARCH 2010
Q60 Chairman: When we heard from
host boroughs, they identified the Broadcast Centre and the Media
Centre as offering the greatest possibility of generating future
employment for those boroughs, and in particular perhaps developing
them as the hub of a sort of digital city. These were very ambitious
plans. Do you think there is any chance of them coming to fruition?
Baroness Ford: That is plan A.
The Mayor of Hackney has been particularly energetic and constant
in his wish to try to do something really meaningful with broadcasting
to create that kind of digital clusterwhich I suppose is
the way you would describe it. Of course there is massive creative
activity in Hackneythe artist colony on Fish Island and
so onso it is not that it would be an odd thing to think
we might create there. The nature of media businesses and creative
businesses is that they tend to be small and organic. We are doing
it the other way round. We have this huge building and we are
saying: how do we make that attractive to a range of occupiers?
Plan A and our concept of the buildings, shared by the boroughs,
is that the ideal configuration, as it were, of tenants there
would be a fairly stable scale employer theresomeone who
is in the media world who may want to relocate there, so a major
Q61 Chairman: We are talking about
a major broadcaster.
Baroness Ford: It could be a major
broadcaster. Someone like that to come there would send a massive
signal that this was a different kind of proposition. Alongside
that, if we had some kind of proper training or skills set up
there, we have already talked to one of the universities who would
like to relocate some of their digital leading-edge research there
as well, and we might want to put some studio school there that
had a media theme, and then a piece of the building that you could
break up sensibly into small units for one and two person businesses
which might want to be associated with all of that, they might
need studio space but only to hire it for periods at a time, that
is the concept that we will be driving at for the next year. If,
and only if, we find we cannot deliver all or parts of that, we
would look at alternative uses for the building. We are not kidding
that this is going to be dead easy. This is going to be quite
difficult to put together, but there is a lot of goodwill around.
Our challenge is to turn that goodwill and that interest into
people who want to sign on the dotted line. That will be the interesting
bit and then we will see whether it is still viable or not. That
is what we will be driving at for the next year.
Q62 Chairman: That is plan A.
Baroness Ford: That is plan A.
Q63 Chairman: What is plan B?
Baroness Ford: I have no idea.
But I always have a plan B, so we will be working on plan B. It
is a big building. I do not mean I have no idea; I mean is there
is nothing up my sleeve. One of the universities, for example,
approached us recently and said that they need exactly that kind
of space in their engineering faculty for storage of large kit
and so on, so there are things that you could use that building
for. We are with Jules Pipe and the other borough leaders in saying
that we will drive at this plan A until we are absolutely clear
that it cannot be delivered.
Q64 Mr Watson: If you are building
a digital footprint, you need the whole eco-system properly connected.
With all the social housing and new housing you are building,
what are the plans to connect the homes up to high-speed broadband,
for example? Is that being removed, stripped out?
Mr Altman: That is something that
is being worked on now in terms of the Olympic Village. The ODA
is looking at how those buildings can be wired with broadband
and with other uses. I do not think that has been concluded yet.
I would have to get back to you with the specifics.
Q65 Mr Watson: In the original plans
there was some talk about "being stripped out". Is that
Baroness Ford: The Broadcast Centre?
Q66 Mr Watson: All the homes that
were being built around the place were supposed to be connected
up. Presumably if you are building a digital legacy, you would
build that into your assumptions.
Mr Altman: I would have to get
back to you on that, on what those original ideas were. There
is a lot of infrastructure that is being put in, in terms of the
fibre network that will service the entire Park and the Broadcast
Centre and all the facilities within it, but I would have to get
back on how that is linked to the housing pieces in the surrounding
Baroness Ford: It would be a shame
to think that things were put in there that were then taken out
for no reason, so we need to make sure that does not happen.
Q67 Janet Anderson: In relation to
the Legacy Masterplan Framework that came out in February 2009,
you expressed concerns about two areas. One was the sporting legacy.
Have you done anything on that to reassure yourselves that there
will be a worthwhile sporting legacy?
Mr Altman: Yes. You are exactly
right, when the Chair took office about nine months ago and I
took office about six months ago and we started to review the
Masterplan, there were those two areas, the sporting and the housing
provision. On the sporting issue, the Chair initiated a process
with the main sporting bodies around the country to get their
specific comments and review of the Masterplan. Many felt that
they had not been sufficiently engaged, that sport was not as
prominent in the Masterplan as it should be, that it was hard
to find even the reference to sport in the Masterplan, so we specifically
asked each of those sporting bodies to give us comments. Are they
happy with the Masterplan? Is there sufficient provision for sport?
Are there more programmes that should be a part of this? They
have all responded very favourably. In this engagement we went
out over a two/three month period and asked them for their comments
and suggestions and they have all come back with a lot of ideas,
whether it is British Swimming to UK Athletics to UK Sport to
Sport England. Everyone has been very involved. Yes, I am very
happy with the level of openness and receptivity, and I think
it will result in a lot of positive changes, not only in the Masterplan
but also importantly to the ongoing commitment of each of the
sporting entities to the Park. I would say that the core issue
is not so much a design issue per se as getting the ongoing commitment
to the use of the Park by all the sporting entities so that it
continues to be a premier centre for sport activity, and they
have all been very open.
Q68 Janet Anderson: Essentially,
has the Masterplan been rewritten or amended to address your concerns?
Mr Altman: We are right now in
the process of refining the Masterplan. Again, as you noted, the
Masterplan had been through a very significant period of community
engagement and consultation. There were literally hundreds of
comments. Over 9,000 people were engaged. I know this Committee
had been concerned about that at the last appearance, and as a
result of that we have done a lot of work with the boroughs and
the communities. Right now we are taking all of that and we will
be refining that Masterplan. We are completing that review in
the spring and we hope to have that plan ready for submittal for
approval by the end of the year. It is something that we very
much want to do, because getting that approval in place will be
important. I would say it is very much a refinement. You will
see the reflection of a lot of the comments that were received
through that community engagement, as well as through the specific
engagement with the sports bodies, and that will be there. You
will see much more emphasis on sport in the Masterplan and, as
the Chair has said, a very significant emphasis on the family
Q69 Janet Anderson: In the Taking
Part initiative there is a plan for public mass participation
events in the Park in 2011 and 2013. Do they have your full support?
Mr Altman: We are working right
now on an event strategy. Through the ODA, a Park operations group
has been set up. That is chaired by the ODA. That was recently
established because of the importance of having a clear responsibility
for what happens in the gap year, which is the year when construction
will be done, facilities and Games, and then the transformation
year, which is the year after Games, 2012-13. During those two
years there needed to be a clear responsibility for Park operations.
We are a part of that group, as is the Lee Valley Regional Park
Authority, and we are coming up with a co-ordinated event strategy
as to how to use the Park pre-Games and post-Games for the testing
events as well as other possibilities, other events. The Mayor
is interested in that clearly. We are interested in that. As much
as possible, we would love to get people into the Park, for people
to see what has been built before-Games, and after-Games have
people experience it. The answer is that we are now working on
that event strategy as part of the overall Park operations piece
for both pre and post Games.
Q70 Janet Anderson: Will the Taking
Part project be part of that?
Mr Altman: We are working on it.
We have met with them and they are a part of the number of events
that we are looking at programming. We are also working with the
boroughs, I should say, and many other entities, the Cultural
Olympiad and others, to look at all the events that might be possible.
Q71 Janet Anderson: You mentioned
housing as well. You were concerned about the provision of affordable
accommodation for athletes visiting the Park, that that was missing
from the original framework. Are you happy that that is now in
there, or going to be in there?
Baroness Ford: Yes.
Q72 Janet Anderson: Where will the
funding come from?
Baroness Ford: It is a very practical
point in terms of the expression of what Andrew has been saying,
in the sense that the sporting world have said to us, "We
want athletes to come here, we want people to visit here, but
where would they stay if they came to the Park?" There was
nothing in the Masterplan that suggested where they would stay.
At the same time as that was happening, we were approached by
another organisation. If the Committee would forgive me, we have
not concluded the negotiation with them yet, but it is another
organisation which wanted to come in and to build accommodation
in the Parkso we will not be paying for that, they will
be paying for that for their own purposes but also then to let
it out to visiting athletes or school children or people being
there. Here were two things you could immediately put togetherat
no cost to us, thankfully, but it solves the problem. It was those
kinds of practical things that were not thought about in the first
Masterplan which we have addressed now.
Q73 Janet Anderson: You talk about
letting them out. Will they be affordable?
Baroness Ford: Absolutely.
Q74 Janet Anderson: Schools, for
example, would not be put off by the cost?
Baroness Ford: The organisation
who are coming are used to working primarily with schools from
all over the UK. It is exactly that kind of accommodation.
Q75 Mr Sanders: On the Olympic Stadium,
a controversy has recently re-emerged. What criteria would you
use to evaluate bids for its use?
Baroness Ford: Perhaps I could
explain the process we are going through, part of which is to
develop those formal criteria. Lots of people had been expressing
different kinds of interests to the LDA and the ODA about the
Stadium. People talked to rugby and 20:20 cricket and so on, so
there were a lot of discussions going on. Also, we were clear
that there were a number of commitments, not least the bid commitment
to Grand Prix athletics at the Stadium and so on. Our board decided
two meetings agoparticularly because West Ham had then
changed ownership and the owners became very vocal about their
desire to come to the Stadiumthat the time was absolutely
right now to go into a public process to get a settled set of
uses for the Stadium. This is a £540 million public asset,
so it goes without saying that we are not just going to have some
conversation off-stage left and someone is going to take over
the Stadium. It has to be a publicly managed process to demonstrate
value for money and to demonstrate that we are keeping the bid
commitments that are there. The way we are going to do that is
we are going to have three months of what we would call soft-market
testing, where we can publish our prospectus sometime in the next
few weeks, setting out the opportunity of this genuinely world-class
asset in the Stadium, inviting people to come formally and tell
us and commit to what they might want to do with the legacy. Once
we have gone through that process, we will then go into a formal
procurement process. You will be familiar with that, and that
will take about six months. We are really hoping that we will
get to an agreed position by the end of the year, so that we can
say, "Here are the uses for the Stadium and legacy,"
and then we will put that to one side and we will concentrate
on other things. On the evaluation criteria, we do not have those
formalised at the moment and we will not be formalising those
until we go into the formal part of the procurement process.
Q76 Mr Sanders: One of the things
over which I think there is some public confusion is that here
is an 80,000 all-seater Stadium that apparently at the end of
the Games, originally, was going to be reduced to 25,000, therefore
a large part of the Stadium is temporary. If people are now looking
at the possibility of taking over the Stadium beyond 25,000-28,000
seats, how permanent is that temporary structure?
Baroness Ford: Do you mind if
I ask Andrew to answer that, because he has been much more involved
in the technical discussions that have got us to this point.
Mr Altman: One of the great advantagesand
it goes to a question that was asked earlier about how legacy
has been built into many of these facilitiesis the flexibility
of the Stadium. We have been doing work that the Chair initiated
looking at the different potential options just to understand
ourselves, whether it is 80,000, 50,000, 40,000, 28,000 or 25,000,
what the range of options could be and how those could be supportable.
We have looked at all those possibilities to see how it is technically
possible and I think we are comfortable that there is this range
of options. Do they have costs associated with them? Sure, there
is a different set of costs, but the Stadium itself is an incredibly
flexible building that does allow for this optionality, if you
will, which I think, as the Chair has said, when we go out to
the market will allow for a lot of different possibilities that
we may not even know of today because it can be retro-fitted to
Q77 Mr Sanders: I can understand
when you build a stadium of 25,000 you could expand it to 80,000.
How do you reduce a stadium from 80,000 to 25,000?
Mr Altman: Because the way it
is built is that you have a superstructure that you see today
when you go out to the Stadium, and then you literally can demount
it in terms of the number of seats that you would want to retain.
If you go down to 50,000, you may have to rebuild pieces of it.
Again much of this will depend on exactly what are the component
parts. For example, if you want to put in box seating, premier
seating, that may be something you would have to construct. It
really depends on exactly how you want to use it, but the Stadium
itself you could continue to demount down to 50,000, to 40,000,
to 28,000, depending on what you want to do.
Q78 Mr Sanders: In other words, the
bowl that could support 80,000 is a permanent structure.
Baroness Ford: Yes.
Q79 Mr Sanders: There is nothing
temporary about it at all.
Baroness Ford: No, not that bowl