A makeover special: Basildon transformed into a seaside resort, Westlife turn into housing experts and Livingstone casts himself in Passport to Pimlico

Enough about Wembley …

After spending most of last week fending off the nation's concerns over Wembley stadium, I hear that Multiplex chiefs have turned their attention to the contractor's other high-profile project, at White City in west London. Developer Westfield has defiantly insisted that Multiplex will continue to build the shopping centre development despite industry speculation that it was searching for an alternative contractor. But news reaches me that Multiplex has spent more time than usual with its client this week, and has been busy searching the USA for a subcontractor to work on the scheme. Watch this space …

… Oh, all right then

And talking of Wembley, Multiplex has just received an inspiring vote of confidence from the Football Association. Apparently the FA has been reserving hotel accommodation in Cardiff, home to the Millennium Stadium, for the week of 13 May, the date of the FA Cup Final. Funny that.

Obvious Dig at Prescott's Mob

While spending a few idle minutes surfing the web, Building came across a Trinidadian organisation rejoicing in the title of the Office for Disaster Preparedness and Management, or ODPM for short. Judging by last week's House of Commons report into its competency, our own ODPM could perhaps do with its help.

And he knows who shot JFK …

Prospective bidders for the 2012 Olympics programme manager job are muttering enviously about the excellent government contacts of US giant Bechtel, which has been touted for the role. When you look at the CV of Bechtel's European chief, Charles "Chuck" Redman, you can see what they mean. In a 22-year career with the US State Department prior to joining Bechtel, Redman served as special envoy to Haiti and the former Yugoslavia, was spokesperson for Ronald Reagan's secretary of state George Schultz and ended up as US ambassador to Germany. Still, all to play for, everyone else should keep telling themselves.

Basildon: The new Acapulco

Westminster University architecture student Paul Ruff is clearly determined to look on the bright side of flood risks in the Thames Gateway. As shown in the exhibition "Visualisations of the 21st century" at the RIBA, Ruff envisages the decidedly inland and not especially touristy Essex town of Basildon as a rather jolly seaside resort with its own pier. Bring on global warming, I say.

Basildom postcard


I've always felt there was a big crossover between the pop music and property development industries - creativity, a sense of harmony, rugged good looks of the prime exponents - and now my hunch has been confirmed. Shane Filan, from the Irish boyband Westlife, has gone into housebuilding with his brother Finbarr in a venture they have cleverly named Shafin. The pair have put 95 homes in Dromahair, County Leitrim, on the market this week. Apparently they have sold like, well, a Westlife single - but rumours that the buyers are pocket-money-wielding teenage girls are, as yet, unconfirmed.

Next stop the world!

At a recent press conference on the extension of the mayor's powers at City Hall, Ken Livingstone finally revealed the true extent of his megalomania. When asked which powers he would like to be granted, the speed of his response suggested he had thought about it before. "Ideally, London would be an independent city," he quipped. "We would have our foreign policy and everything." It's the stuff dreams are made of, Ken.

Hansom illustration: the bureau de chnage at the City of Livingstone

Credit: Colin Wheeler