The Olympic legacy could fall short if it doesn’t act on key lessons learned from other Olympic cities

Olympic bosses may not be able to deliver on their promises of a successful Olympic legacy unless they develop a clear and consistent strategy, according to a report by leading urban policy...

Press release published on 9 September 2012

Olympic bosses may not be able to deliver on their promises of a successful Olympic legacy unless they develop a clear and consistent strategy, according to a report by leading urban policy think tank Centre for Cities.

The report, which looks at the lessons from previous successful Olympics, warns both the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Olympic Boroughs that for a better chance of success, they need to follow this five point plan:

1. Create a 25 year plan and stick to it.  The Government, the Mayor of London, the London Legacy Development Corporation, and the Olympic Boroughs should redefine and commit to a long-term strategy that ensures the Olympic legacy contributes to the future success of London as a whole.

2. Make a long-term commitment to fund the Olympic legacy. The Government, the Mayor of London and the London Legacy Development Corporation need to ensure they continue to fund and support long-term legacy objectives.

3. Develop a clear legacy vision for the Olympic Park.  A major task for the Mayor and the London Legacy Development Corporation is to address questions about how the Olympic Park will attract business and residents.

4. Do more to deliver a social legacy for East London.  The Boroughs and the Mayor need to invest over the long-term in the people of East London, targeting education and skills needs to help local people access jobs

5. Learn from success: The Government should roll out the best Olympic ideas, for example the CompeteFor initiative, which could level the playing field for small and medium sized businesses on government contracts.

The paper, A Marathon not a Sprint? assesses the prospects for London’s legacy using analysis of previous host cities Barcelona and Sydney*. Both cities enjoyed a successful Games with positive effects in the decade that followed.

Significantly, the report notes that both Barcelona and Sydney had a clear legacy vision from the outset: Barcelona’s aim in 1992 was to open the city out to the sea, transforming the whole city and impacting tourism; Sydney’s focus was to market itself to the world and it attracted significant private sector investment as a result. By contrast, London’s vision has changed several times. It focused first on social and environmental issues; then, following the recession, put more emphasis on economic growth.

The paper shows that, while every city is unique, a realistic, coherent and long term strategy is critical – as shown in Barcelona and Sydney. Yet in London both a ‘TechCity’ hub and family-friendly housing are battling for space in the Olympic Park. Clarity and consistency early on is key to getting the most out of the Games.

Comparison to previous hosts also shows that the Games alone do not guarantee reduced deprivation. A separate strategy to improve education and skills across the Olympic Boroughs is required to ensure social benefits are realised.

Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive at Centre for Cities said:

“The Olympics and Paralympics have been a great success. Now the work begins to make that success last not just for one generation, but for many.

There are many lessons we can learn from previous Olympic cities. What unites those that had a successful legacy is a robust and consistent strategy to make the best of the opportunities that the Games can bring to the whole city. A long-term commitment to the Olympic Park is also vital to attract private investment and build on the Olympic regeneration effort.

However an understanding of the limits of Olympic legacy is essential too; continued investment in physical regeneration is only part of the story. For the people of Stratford and surrounding Boroughs to benefit, a separate and complementary focus on skills and education is crucial.”


For more information or to request a copy of A Marathon not a Sprint contact Rita Beden / 020 7803 4303 or Rachel Tooby / 020 7803 4316 / 07748 183 026

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