Sadiq Khan has ordered an investigation into how the costs of converting Populous’s 2012 Olympic Stadium into the new home for West Ham FC have ballooned
The mayor launched the inquiry after it emerged that the cost of completing the works had risen by an extra £50 million.
Work to turn the centrepiece of the 2012 Games into a football ground – including the overhaul of the roof and the addition of 21,000 retractable seats – was originally estimated at £154 million. That figure later rose to £272 million, partly due to the complexity of adapting the huge cantilevered roof. Now it has emerged that the revised total cost is nearer to £323 million, with reports that the cost of the new seating had risen from an estimated £300,000 to £8 million.
It is understood West Ham FC contributed just £15 million towards the conversion costs and that the rest of the £752 million cost of building the arena and subsequently making it fit for football has been met by the taxpayer.
Khan said he was ‘deeply concerned’ about the spiralling cost of the project and that he had ‘ordered a detailed investigation into the full range of financial issues’.
Speaking to Sky News yesterday, Khan’s deputy mayor, Jules Pipe, said the new administration had inherited ‘a mess’ from predecessor Boris Johnson. He said: ‘Last year the previous administration told the public that the costs had risen in total to around £270 million. The new mayor has now been told that cost will be over £320 million.
’Understandably, Sadiq has ordered an investigation as to why those two figures are so wildly different.’
Olympic stadium roof construction November 2014
Pipe added: ‘As the new administration at City Hall clearing up the mess of the previous administration, we need to make sure that the stadium runs on a sustainable basis and it is affordable to London.’
‘This is a staggering burden to place on taxpayers’
Labour assembly member Andrew Dismore added: ‘This is a staggering burden to place on taxpayers. It’s only a year ago that Boris Johnson promised both full transparency and that no more public money would be spent on this project. Londoners must now add the stupendous costs of retracting the seating to the other numerous poor deals for the taxpayer the West Ham contract contains.
’This is yet another case of the former mayor taking his eye of the ball and failing to scrutinise or appreciate the detail of the West Ham deal.’
Dismore concluded: ‘Boris even went so far as boasting about the rental income from West Ham which, at £2.5 million per season, can now be seen to be a drop in the ocean when compared with the cost of retracting the seats.
‘Londoners will rightly want to know how they ended up bearing the costs of the former mayor’s disastrous negotiations. A full review is both welcome and entirely necessary.’
News of the review comes just days after the stadium was branded unsuitable for football by Burnley chief executive Paul Fletcher, who advised on the original planning of the stadium.
Talking to The Mail on Sunday in the wake of the violence which erupted in the ground during West Ham’s home cup match with Chelsea, he said: ‘This is what happens when politicians and bureaucrats get involved in professional sport. Instead of leaving West Ham a thoroughbred stadium, the legacy is that they have been left a donkey.
‘The only way to get it right is to knock it down and rebuild it. There is no magic wand.’
Populous declined to comment.
West Ham stadium crop