Property’s biggest job – Olympics tsar – back in play

One of the biggest jobs in property is set to come to market it emerged this morning when Boris Johnson confirmed Baroness Ford is to step down after the Games as head of the new  Olympics regeneration body.

A GLA spokesman this morning confirmed it will begin the process of recruiting a replacement for Ford “in due course”. I understand the mayor brought forward its  announcement this morning after the Times revealed Ford was leaving to take up the role of chair of Barchester Healthcare.

It is likely then that in the coming days, if not already, Johnson’s team will sound out major property figures, hopefully with an Olympics association, to see if they fancy spending the next decade or so taking some time out to work on the serious business of trying to take all of the advantages brought to east London by the Games and turn them into something of lasting benefit for one of the country’s poorest areas. There are obvious names that will be talked about – the ones that were talked about when Ford got the job – such as Sir Stuart Lipton and Nigel Hugill and Sir John Ritblat. Maybe one of the heads of the soon-to-be-wound up regeneration agencies whose land is also being subsumed by the new Olympics body should be considered. Peter Andrews at the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation could be a good shout.

I will be trying to speak to Baroness Ford about her achievements. I think key has been her decision to refocus the housing development in the masterplan on family housing, but there are many others. Anyway here is a piece on the announcement and today’s formation of a new City Hall-owned development corporation to take on the Olympic Park Legacy Company’s work – and a lot more besides.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson is set to go to market seeking a new chief to oversee the Olympics 2012-driven regeneration of east London after it emerged that Baroness Ford was to step down from her role as chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company.

News of the post Games departure of Ford – a driving force in the masterplanning and leasing of the 500-acre Olympic Park – came as Johnson this morning confirmed his formal decision to create a Mayoral Development Corporation responsible for the “regeneration legacy” from the London 2012 Games.

The new body, to be called the London Legacy Development Corporation, will be directly accountable to Londoners through the Mayor and will subsume the Olympic Park Legacy Company, which was jointly controlled by City Hall and central government.

The Corporation, which opens for business on 1 April 2012, will continue the work of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, as well as taking on some extra assets and responsibilities from existing regeneration agencies in the area, such as the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation.

Current OPLC Chair, Baroness Margaret Ford will be Corporation’s interim chair until the Games at which time she will step down from the role.

The OPLC said that until then she will “oversee the smooth transition of the Legacy Company to Legacy Corporation completing some key legacy goals including securing tenants for the remaining venues”.

Significantly the Corporation will have greater powers over the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a wider area including planning and development control.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “We have an extraordinarily exciting period ahead. Building on the momentum already created by the Legacy Company we are on track to grasp this unique opportunity and harness the Olympic legacy of new jobs, new homes and new communities which Londoners will benefit from for years to come.

“I am grateful for Margaret’s huge contribution over the last three years planning and delivering a solid 2012 legacy and delighted she will oversee this important work until after the Games as well as setting the new Legacy Corporation on a firm footing.”

Baroness Ford said: “The Olympic Park Legacy Company has accomplished a huge amount and is on track to achieve all of the main tasks that the Mayor and the Government set back in 2009.

“The next phase of the legacy work, including major transformation plans to the Park, are critical and will require a great deal of attention. I have decided therefore that I cannot continue to give the substantial time required for the role so after the Games would seem a natural point to make the change.”

The Localism Act 2011 provides that the Mayor may designate any area of land in Greater London as a mayoral development area. Importantly a mayoral development area passes over planning powers for the included sites from the affected Boroughs to the mayor. Today’s vote centred on a development area comprising:

• The core Olympic Park, comprising land owned by Olympic Park Legacy Company and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, including Eton Manor

• The Olympic Village and associated development sites owned by London & Continental Railways Ltd and (until recently) the Olympic Delivery Authority

• The Stratford City development site, including the Westfield Shopping Centre and Chobham Farm

• Hackney Wick and Fish Island

• Bromley-by-Bow North (with a southern boundary at the District Line)

• Pudding Mill Lane and Sugarhouse Lane

• Three Mills and Mill Meads

• Carpenters Estate


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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