London’s winning bid for the Olympic Games focussed as much on regeneration as on sporting spectacle. As part of my work I’m interested in how sporting investment can make a broader impact in an area. For me, major events offer host cities a golden opportunity to attract the investment they need to deliver fast-track regeneration.
As the chief executive of the Thames Gateway London Partnership I saw first-hand how the London boroughs worked together from 2006 to exploit the opportunities that capital investment in the Olympics gave them. And at Arup I’m now part of a team advising the host of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast City in Queensland, on how it can use this opportunity to help deliver its objectives.
To unlock the benefits of a major event, it’s vital to consider the place and not just the project. This is something I believe Arup is particularly good at – Mark Bostock wrote recently about how the firm’s regeneration-focussed alignment for the High Speed 1 rail line revitalised the Stratford area of London and helped create a suitable site for the Olympics.
This shows how capital programmes can create the context for a broader transformation. Local authorities need to ask: How can we use these capital programmes to transform the areas? How can we use them to get people back into work? How can we use them to rebrand the area?
For me, the rebranding of east London that’s happening as a result of the Olympic Games is one of the most exciting things. East London is becoming East Village. Perceptions are changing about where the area is – people now see it as part of central London because of the transport links that have been put in place.
The key for local authorities – whether in London, Queensland or elsewhere – is making the most of the many opportunities for regeneration that sporting events bring. The best local authorities exploit every opportunity to help their local communities. They ask: can we use this to deliver the regeneration we want to deliver, faster than we could otherwise deliver it? If they can, everyone benefits.
This feature adopted from Arup and Tim Williams.