Aussie know-how a boost to the London Olympics infrastructure

Aussie know-how a boost to the London Olympics infrastructure
Aussie know-how a boost to the London Olympics infrastructure
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Aussie know-how helped build the London Olympic village with Westfield, Lend Lease and people like the former Lend Lease head David Higgins investing their expertise and their dollars into the more significant assets at the London Olympic Park.

CBRE’s head of East London, Matthew Black, has worked on the London Olympics project since 2002 and says the property expertise and influence of Australians is unsurpassed.

''Westfield built the biggest mall under one roof in Europe at the height of the worse recession in the UK for many decades and the crowds stream in daily,'' Black told Fairfax.

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The 17.6 hectare Westfield Stratford City is so big that it has been issued with its own postcode.

The £1.45 billion shopping centre opened in September and is expected to earn £1 billion in its first year.

That figure will no doubt be bolstered by its proximity to the Olympic complex. Of the 10 million people expected to attend the games, seven million will transit through the shopping centre, walking through “retail avenues” to attend the events.

The centre is part of the Stratford City redevelopment which is being undertaken predominately by Westfield.

The £4 billion development covers 73 hectares and is due to be built over the next 15 years. As well as commercial developments like the shopping centre, the development also includes urban districts to house 11,000 residents and 30,000 workers. And it includes the Olympic athletes village.

Australian design firm, Norman, Disney & Young designed the lighting strategy for the whole development.

Matthew Black says Australians like David Higgins brought unparalleled expertise to the Olympic Development Authority.

"Having David Higgins at the helm of the Olympic Development Authority also brought knowledge that many here did not have. He and Sebastian Coe have brought the area together seamlessly.''

Coe, the London organising committee boss, says he sees the Sydney Olympics as the gold standard, and is drawing on the expertise of Australians who worked on those games.

"John Coates (Australian Olympic Committee president and IOC executive member) is a wise old bird and I always remember him saying to me early on in this journey that if you get the athlete-generated atmosphere at the stadiums then the rest sort of happens," he told News Limited.

"We have been really conscious of that. If you take as much of the operational difficulty as possible out of their lives you've got a good chance of them competing well."

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Without expertise from Sydney, he said he might have spent three years "sitting in front of Parliamentary select committees explaining why I had spent 30 million pounds on a bid that finished second".

Australian developers Lend Lease were chosen as the developers for the London Olympic village. They built the complex which has since sold to the Qatari royal family, UK developer Delancey and Triathlon Homes.

Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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