Regional Development Agencies to find suitable sites for camps as part of London's bid to host 2012 games.
Regional Development Agencies are to be asked to develop more than 100 training camps across the country as part of London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

The camps would be used by competing teams from foreign countries to train athletes in the 12 months leading up to the games.

Michael Ward, chief executive of the London Development Agency, told Building that RDA chiefs had agreed to find suitable locations for the camps in their areas.

He said: "This is a huge opportunity for the rest of the country to get involved in the bid. The RDAs have offered to act as a clearing house for that [training camp] work. They'll get into their stride after 2005 and each RDA will talk to local authorities to identify potential sites."

Existing stadiums and sports facilities would be used, but on most sites additional development work would take place to ensure that camps were of a sufficiently high standard.

Derek Mapp, chairman of the East Midlands Development Agency, said that in his region, Loughborough University would be an appropriate site. EMDA is investing heavily in the university's sports facilities, which are regarded as among the best in the country.

This is a huge opportunity for the rest of the country to get involved in London’s bid

Michael Ward, chief executive, London Development Agency

Mapp said: "We are willing to provide facilities to help with the games. Looking at Loughborough, it would be ridiculous not to use that as part of a bid."

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that sports minister Richard Caborn's previous involvement with RDAs meant that they would be integral to the bid.

Ward revealed that his agency was considering using compulsory purchase powers to ensure that it could assemble the necessary land in east London. The LDA has so far assembled only one 12 acre-stretch of land at the site of the former Hackney greyhound track. Ward said that he expected to buy further land later in the year.

Gordon Marsden, a parliamentary private secretary at the DCMS, said an Olympic working group was looking at whether a park-and-ride scheme would solve some of the transport problems that a successful bid would create in east London.

Marsden added that the use of the PFI in the construction of an Olympic stadium and athletes village was under consideration.