Altman responds to short-termism criticism

A piece in The Guardian on Wednesday which accused the Olympic Park Legacy Company of seeking short-term profits rather than long-term regeneration gains by turning down the Wellcome Trust’s bid for the Park has clearly got up the noses of the OPLC.

There is an eloquent letter from OPLC chief Andrew Altman in The Guardian today that you can read here. I have also written a news piece on CoStar News about it which I have copied in below. But first some musings.

The OPLC must be getting fed up with the suggestion that it has much if any control over the Olympic Village sale and if the ODA, which is selling it, prefers Qatari/Diar than there is not a lot it can do about that even if it wished to.

Separately, the Wellcome Trust bid – which is for the village and the park – must have been looked at in great depth by central government and City Hall. And the decision must have been from all corners that the bid was simply too low given the amount of tax payer money that has gone into assembling and delivering the site. Time will tell if that is the right decision and perhaps too many people have been involved in making it, but it is clear that the OPLC will not have made the choice on its own.

Anyway here is the story:

The Olympic Park Legacy Company has publicly rejected criticism that the agency is seeking short-term profits rather than long-term gains in failing to back a £1bn bid for the 500-acre park from charity the Wellcome Trust.

Yesterday it emerged that government had written to the Wellcome Trust to decline its bid because it did not offer “value for money” for the taxpayer.

Wellcome Trust was bidding for both the £500m-plus Olympic Village, which is being sold by government agency the Olympic Delivery Authority, and the 500-acre Olympic Park, which is being sold by the city hall and central government owned OPLC.

Responding to a piece in The Guardian accusing the Olympic Park Legacy Company of putting profits ahead of long-term rejuvenation in the east end, Andrew Altman, chief executive of the OPLC, said the opposite was in fact the case.

“Our 30-year vision was published last year and we have made good progress in securing legacy uses for the key venues and planning the surrounding parklands and five new neighbourhoods of private, affordable and family housing.”

Altman goes to on to point out that another government agency the Olympic Delivery Authority is selling the athletes’ village not the OPLC, but adds: “This will be based on value for money and will take into account not just the commercial aspects, but also affordability, deliverability and returns to the public purse. The village has never been “hived off” from the rest of the park; it has always been part of our overall masterplan, even though it is owned by a separate public body.”

Altman added that the Trust “would be free, as would all other interested parties, to put forward bids under any future competitions”.

The assembly and delivery of the 2012 Olympic Park has required a government budget of more than £9bn.


About Paul Norman's Olympics blog

News Editor of CoStar News, a commercial property news service. Regular blogger on the London 2012 Olympics and what it means for property and the the regeneration of East London
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