London revises plans for 2012 Olympic Park

LONDON – London 2012 officials have made cost-saving changes to the Olympic Park, making the site more compact and secure and saving 95 businesses from having to relocate. Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Olympic organizing committee, said yesterday the changes were approved by the British government and the International Olympic Committee last week. The alterations affect the athletes’ village, the press and broadcast centers and parking facilities. «A week’s work now is worth four weeks down the track,» Coe said. «The changes will bring the facilities close together within the Olympic Park, resulting in an improved layout that will make the site even more secure for all users, including athletes and spectators as well as for visitors, staff and the community.» David Higgins, the incoming chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, said construction on the athletes’ village would begin earlier than originally planned. The land has already been cleared by private Stratford City developers on the East London site. Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said security was a top priority at the Olympic Park following the suicide bombings which killed 56 people on London’s transit system last July. «Further work on refining and developing the security aspects of the revised plan is in hand,» Jowell said in a written statement to Parliament yesterday. The international broadcast center and the main press center will be moved from temporary buildings outside the Olympic Park to an area near the international train station inside the complex. The media centers will be housed in buildings which are to be converted into offices after the Games. «The impact can only be beneficial, particularly in the case of the village,» said Higgins, adding it was too early to put a figure on the money saved. Jim Sloman, an adviser to London 2012 who was chief operating officer for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said the changes would «help deliver the London Olympic Park on time by allowing building to begin as early as possible.» A multistory parking lot built for Stratford City will be used for temporary parking, allowing Olympic authorities to release a 29-hectare (72-acre) area of land from being requisitioned. That means 95 businesses, with 1,200 employees, and 70 residents will not have to be relocated because of the Olympics. Manny Lewis, chief executive of the London Development Agency, said 206 businesses still had to be relocated. The land is scheduled to be given to Olympic organizers by mid-2007.

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