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GETTING IN SHAPE FOR 2012

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AGENDA

There are two ways of looking at the latest batch of changes to the Olympic masterplan: you could either claim that the Olympic mandarins are unable to first settle on a design and then run with it; or you could suggest that the people behind the push to 2012 are avoiding dogmatism by sensibly allowing the proposals to evolve.

It seems unfair to suggest anything other than the latter.

As one observer - and attendee at the recent Olympic Delivery Agency (ODA) design review meeting - put it: 'I have become increasingly impressed by [ODA boss] David Higgins.

He seems to completely understand what needs to be done and appreciates the importance of architecture and design in the process of building.

'Of course we are looking at the designs. Mostly what we are assessing is the legacy. That will in the end prove to be by far the most important thing, ' the observer continued.

Among the more sensible changes is the decision to revisit the landscaping proposals. The new designs see the park stick far more closely to the existing topography, a move that has two definite advantages - preserving the characteristics of the area and keeping the cost of the earth-moving process down.

Another ODA group member told the AJ that what was happening to the design was 'sensible in the extreme'.

He said: 'Of course the masterplan is not going to look exactly the same as when London won the bid; that would be daft.'

Before you dismiss these quotes as platitudes, it's worth considering that the people on the committee are serious players who are not going to buy into quango propaganda.

Among them are Stuart Lipton, Richard Rogers, Higgins himself, members of the design team, CABE deputy chair Paul Finch, and many more.

Not a group to dismiss. And not one to suffer fools gladly.

So what does Higgins thinks? 'Planning now is worth its weight in gold further down the track, ' he says. 'This represents a major building block for the project, allowing us to move to the next stage - design and procurement of the different venues and securing planning permissions.

'When we say we want a culture of no white elephants we mean it. London 2012 will not simply be a sporting celebration, ' he added.

Hear hear.

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