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Wembley backtracks and runs ahead with athletics

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The company battling to build the new Wembley Stadium has decided to keep Foster and Partners and hok + Lobb's plans for a demountable athletics track so the venue will be capable of staging a future Olympics Games after all.

The 6m high temporary platform, which would cost £20 million to assemble each time it is used, six months to build and three months to take down, has long been one of the chief causes of controversy and arguments between culture secretary Chris Smith, the athletics and football bodies. And news this week that a new 50,000-seat stadium will be built in Pickett's Lock, north-east London for the Athletics Championships in 2005 (see page 15) appeared to have ruled out Wembley staging athletics.

But Wembley spokesman Chris Palmer told the AJ this week that Wembley is pressing ahead with its athletics plans and that if the Olympics ever come to London, he would be 'surprised' if track and field did not take place at the new look stadium. The most likely date for this to happen is 2012 if England makes a bid. Palmer added that the athletics track would probably only be used twice in the stadium's lifetime and only result in the loss of a total of four football matches to other venues. The whole scheme for the 90,000-seater stadium plus hotel and offices for the fa will be considered at Brent Council's planning committee meeting on 25 April.

Last week the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment warmly approved the way the design for the stadium is developing, and said it was 'pleased the architects have taken account of its earlier comments.' cabe added that it welcomed the fact that Wembley was keeping options open regarding athletics.

cabe also broadly strongly supported Allies & Morrison's Cowdray Park Golf Club scheme and gave qualified approval to Hawkins\Brown's Tottenham Court Road Station project.

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