OPLC pulled plug on West Ham deal

The government was fighting off accusations that the 2012 Olympic stadium has become a “white elephant” this week, after the Olympic Park Legacy Company pulled the plug on its deal to hand over the stadium to West Ham football club after the Games.

Redevelopment of the stadium (pictured) will again be put out to tender, but the government said the scope will be reduced, raising fears about the legacy of the Populous-designed venue, built by Sir Robert McAlpine.

The agreement with West Ham was ripped up over fears that the legal dispute over the bid process could derail the government’s wider £315m legacy plans for the Olympic park.
Rival football clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient had mounted a judicial review into whether Newham council’s involvement in West Ham’s bid breached state aid rules.

Newham, which planned to lend West Ham £40m for stadium conversion costs, withdrew from the deal on Monday saying it could not guarantee the stadium would reopen as expected in 2014 due to legal uncertainties.

The development put in doubt West Ham’s post-Games proposal to convert the stadium, which was being drawn up by Populous.

Under the new process, the government will retain the stadium as a public asset and rent it out, rather than offering a long-term lease.

The tender will also stipulate that the running track must be retained but reports suggest the government is looking at all other options, including limiting use of the stadium to athletics and events such as concerts.

Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, said: “This catastrophe is down to Sebastian Coe’s insistence that the stadium should retain an athletics track after the Games.”