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Olympics demand fresh approach

A successful London Olympics bid could lead to a wholesale rethink of the government's procurement methods, regeneration expert Fred Manson predicted this week.

Manson also warned that the bid would only succeed if there was a temporary acceleration of the planning process and an innovative approach to creating an architectural legacy.

Manson, who as Southwark's regeneration director commissioned Alsop's Peckham Library, said the government would be forced to recruit younger, innovative practices with the ideas to make the Olympics feasible. He called for an architectural competition to flush out the most imaginative solutions for projects that were sustainable in the long term and would contribute to local regeneration.

'Present procurement favours large companies, but these lack the way to think about new ideas, ' he said. 'If the government was more adventurous about the practices it commissions, this would have a knock-on effect across all public projects, ' he added. The Olympics also offered an opportunity to explore the use of multinational companies to help fund the games as an alternative to conventional private finance arrangements, he proposed.

London's bid, which would see the Olympic Village sited in the Lower Lea Valley, would require a 'temporary suspension of democracy'. Local groups would have to be persuaded not to tie-up development within the planning system, and decision makers encouraged to take on greater responsibility to make projects successful, Manson claimed.

'It's a matter of being brave, ' he said. 'Everyone in London must agree that this is important and that we won't tolerate people in the Lea Valley holding things up.'

The LDA's head of partnership development, Michael Owen, who is leading the regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley, confirmed that the LDA would be looking for ways to encourage young talent.

Owen said: 'A project of this scale will imply a need to draw on the best expertise around. However, it is essential that we make space for innovative architects and designers, especially given the need to come up with legacy solutions.'

The long-term regeneration of the Lea Valley would be the starting point for any development, he added. 'Legacy starts today, ' he said. 'It will inform our whole approach. We are determined to avoid the mistakes made by other cities in the past.'

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