London 2012: Mayor to take over Park legacy planning

The London 2012 Olympic stadium and Arcelor Mittal Orbit sculpture
Image caption The legacy Corporation will be looking to secure tenants for the remaining venues on the site

The mayor of London's office is to take over planning for the future of the Olympic Park in April.

The London Legacy Development Corporation will continue the work of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC).

Approval for mayor Boris Johnson to take over responsibility for the post-Games development of the site was granted by the London Assembly.

Mr Johnson wants to strengthen the future of the Park and better connect it with surrounding neighbourhoods.

OPLC Chair, Baroness Margaret Ford, has been appointed as the Corporation's interim Chair until the Games are over when she will step down from the role.

Until then she will oversee the smooth transition of the OPLC to the Corporation, completing some key legacy goals including securing tenants for the remaining venues. She has also been named as the new chairman of care provider Barchester Healthcare.

'Solid 2012 legacy'

The work of the Corporation, the first Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC), will also involve managing some of the assets and responsibilities of existing regeneration agencies in the area, such as the Thames Gateway Development Corporation.

Mr Johnson said: "We have an extraordinarily exciting period ahead.

"Building on the momentum already created by the OPLC 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."

He said Baroness Ford had made a huge contribution over the last three years "planning and delivering a solid 2012 legacy" and that he was "delighted she will oversee this important work until after the Games".

Speaking about her decision to step down, Baroness Ford said: "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 vote to hand responsibility for the Park's legacy to the mayor was made at an extraordinary plenary meeting of the London Assembly in January, following a public consultation last year.

The plans will now go to parliament for the formal establishment of the Corporation, which will have responsibilities that include planning decisions within its boundaries.

Accountable to Londoners

Mr Johnson sees the Olympic Park and surrounding areas as the capital's single most important regeneration project for the next 25 years, said his office. The new body will cover a wider area and have greater powers, including planning powers, said the mayor's office.

Rather than being accountable to central government and the mayor, it would be directly accountable to Londoners through the mayor, it added.

Mr Johnson said: "The Olympic Park Legacy Company have put us ahead of any previous host city in securing the long-term future of its facilities before the first starting gun has even been fired.

"By creating the first Mayoral Development Corporation we are strengthening London's legacy plans even further, leaving us in the best possible position to create thousands of new jobs and new homes that will continue to change people's lives long after the Olympic flame has left."

The OPLC is currently launching a new tender process for the Olympic Stadium after a deal with West Ham and Newham Council to use the stadium after the 2012 Games collapsed last October.

The showpiece venue will now remain in public ownership and be rented out to an anchor tenant.

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