Architect Steve Lawrence reveals he was source of anonymous state aid complaint about stadium legacy plans
An architect has been revealed as the man responsible for an anonymous complaint that scuppered West Ham football club’s plans to take over the £468m Olympic Stadium after the Games.
Steve Lawrence, who has connections to the 2012 project, told Sky Sports New that he was the “anonymous” person who complained to the European Commission last year about the football club’s proposed £40m loan deal with Newham council, which he saw as illegal state aid.
The loan had been offered to the side as part of a partnership deal that would also have seen a school and community sports facilities located at the complex. Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient football clubs had launched a judicial review into the loan.
Mr Lawrence told the broadcaster he had complained to the commission because he felt the bidding process for the future use of the stadium was too “opaque”, but insisted he had no connections with any of the parties involved.
“I care a great deal about the project,” he said.
“It’s a project I started in the first place and I want the legacy in east London to last for generations.”
Mr Lawrence said it was unrealistic to rely on athletics as a legacy use for the stadium, but said he had feared West Ham would have been left “homeless” if the subsidy from the council had been identified as illegal state aid and had needed to be repaid.
“If that had happened after they had moved out of Upton Park and that ground had been redeveloped they then would have been in a position where they would have had to return that stadium and they would have been left homeless and we would have lost one of our precious English football clubs,” he said.
Sky said Mr Lawrence’s connection with the Olympic site dated back more than a decade, and that he had been commissioned by Stratford Development Partnerships to carry out a feasibility study on Stratford Rail Lands as a potential Games venue after it became clear that Wembley was not a viable location.