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Olympics ‘all about regeneration’

MIPIM 2012: London’s vision for the Olympics has always been about regeneration, said Olympic Park Legacy chief executive Andrew Altman.

Speaking at a seminar on using sport as an urban regeneration tool at MIPIM yesterday, Altman said that the Olympics were helping achieve a long-term government strategy to enlarge London to the east.

“We are able to use this sporting event to build the infrastructure that is needed to accommodate London’s growth as the population swells from 6m to 7m,” he said.

“Major sports events, in terms of regeneration, should very much start with a vision for the city,” said Altman, “and how that major event can be used to create that vision.”

He added that London’s bid for the 2012 Games was based around a long-term strategy of regeneration, rather than just the hope that something might happen in Stratford.

Brian Field, urban planning and development adviser at the European Investment Bank, agreed. He said that planners had been trying to develop east London for more than 50 years.

He said that when properly planned, sports events could bring major advantages to urban development including promoting the regeneration of inner-city neighbourhoods and facilitating the development of large brownfield sites. He added that events can also accelerate the improvement of key urban infrastructure, leveraging further investment and development projects from both the public and private sectors and change a city’s image and brand.

“To be honest,” said Field, “Stratford was a dump, but it is now a vibrant, attractive area with a very different future that places it at the heart of London rather than on the periphery.”

samantha.mcclary@estatesgazette.com

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