London Olympic Bid Planning Permissions
I advised the LDA from the outset on their strategy for securing planning permission and assembling the site for the London Olympics to underpin the London Olympic bid within a very short timescale.
The key achievement was obtaining four planning permissions for a 500 acre site for both the Olympic development and for the subsequent Legacy Development to follow after the 2012 Olympics. The timescales for the bid were extremely tight and planning permission was obtained within 13 months from the appointment of the master planners. The day of the IOC decision was one of the best days of my professional life and 2012 is going to be a great year.
There were some extremely challenging EIA and strategic legal issues. In preparing the application I reviewed every document including the ES and the crucial Development Specification and Framework to which the planning permissions were tied. The key issues included:
- Relocating existing occupiers - including the users of Hackney Marshes (which included football pitches on which David Beckham was reported to have started his career) and the very effective and articulate Eastway Users Group (as occupiers of the existing cycle circuit).
- Transport impacts - the Olympic site was already well-served by existing and proposed transport infrastructure. The EIA and the Section 106 agreement had to address complex problems of delivery and programming of proposed infrastructure improvements and there were also very important provisions to ensure that the Crossrail project (which affected part of the site near to the stadium) was protected from obstruction and disruption by the Olympic Development. Key stakeholders included Network Rail and TfL.
- The Olympic development adversely affected existing Green Belt, MOL and Common Land, including the Arena Fields and Hackney Marshes. The importance of the Olympic scheme helped to outweigh the harm of these impacts and no doubt the Council will need to consider whether similar very special circumstances apply in relation to the Saracens' proposals.
- Flooding - there were some important issues associated with the Flood Risk Assessment and the mitigation of those risks.
- Habitats - whilst the area was mainly heavily industrialised or derelict, there were protected sites and the London Wildlife Trust were key stakeholders in the discussions.
- Underwriting the LPAs' fees - there were four different LPAs and I drafted the agreement on which they set up the Joint Planning Advisory Team to enable them to closely coordinate their consideration of the planning applications. This was an agreement which was a precursor to Planning Services Agreements in which costs were underwritten and key principles and programme of the process were agreed in order to meet the necessarily tight timescales for determining the applications in time to meet the needs of the bid and the IOC programme.
- There were 300 landowners who were opposed to the compulsory purchase orders that would be needed if the bid was successful. The care with which the applications were determined and conscientious community engagement helped to ensure that the permissions were not legally challenged.
The original guru on planning and all things CPO was a guy called Paul Winter. He's since left Eversheds and set up on his own. I think he's the best planning lawyer/adviser in London.
Alison Nimmo CBE (former Director of Design and Regeneration at the Olympic Delivery Authority and currently Chief Executive at the Crown Estate).