Will there be a legacy?

Shaun McCarthy

August 8, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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Expectations were high. London 2012 was expected to deliver the most sustainable Games ever. But will there be a legacy? I have always seen London 2012 as a sustainable regeneration project interrupted by a few weeks of sport. This is a view developed by the political leaders at the time and led to the concept of the sustainable Games.

There is no doubt that East London has exploded on to the world stage as a place to visit, live and work. In the words of Sir Winston Churchill “perhaps this is the end of the beginning” for a sustainable legacy in East London. Personally I saw stories of West End shops and eateries being relatively quiet as a ringing endorsement for the arrival of the East End as a destination. People were going to the Games and choosing to stay on the Park or in the local vicinity. Unthinkable five years ago. Visitors will undoubtedly return to the West End but hopefully they will return with their wallets to the East End too, providing an economic route to a better future. There is much more to be done in East London and we turn to Daniel Moylan in his new role as Chair of the London Legacy Development Corporation to join with more established leaders in East London to ensure the positive momentum gathered from the Games is not lost.

The Olympic Village will be 2,700 homes in legacy, the first major development to be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. The operations centre will become a school and the athletes’ polyclinic will become a hi-tec GP clinic for the community. This will be the first of many developments to contribute toLondon’s much publicised housing shortage. It is essential to ensure that the area does not become a gentrified ghetto and that a mixture of affordable housing is available as well as property for sale.

Jobs are a key driver for legacy. Of the construction workforce for the venues and village; 7,438 came from the host boroughs. This is 16% of the Park workforce and 24% of the village workforce. This is evaluated by post code which is not perfect but these people are contributing to the economy. Figures for LOCOG are less clear at this stage but they currently estimate 6,000 people recruited through their local job brokerage scheme. Local employment and recruitment is important and I hope that the legacy company pays as much attention to this aspect as the ODA and LOCOG.

It takes more than a haul of hard-won medals by the champions of Team GB to convert a nation grappling with obesity to a healthier lifestyle based on sport. Getting more people active, whether playing sport or simply increasing their daily mobility, takes investment at community level and a clear plan – no such plan currently exists outside London.

As well as playing a critical role in tackling obesity, funding for community and school sport also gives a chance for budding young athletes to become the sporting stars of the future – at that point elite sport funding takes over.

Shaun McCarthy 

August 2012  

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