Joined: 14 Jul 2005
Club: BSAC 109
Sport : SubAqua Diving
Daniel Moylan is the man with the answer to the question everyone who went the London 2012 Olympics is now asking. What will happen to Olympic Park after the Olympics and the Paralympics?
In the space of just two weeks, the 560-acre site on former wasteland in Stratford, east London, has become one of the most treasured pockets of land in the UK.
It is the home of memories that will last a lifetime, ranging from the gold-medal-winning performances of athletes such as Mo Farah to the unprecedented uplift in the spirit of Londoners.
“Trying to recreate the spirit is a slightly forlorn and pointless thing to do,” says Moylan, the chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation, on the plans for the park.
“The spirit was like a huge adrenalin rush of excitement, good humour and decency. There was a transformation in behaviour as well as spirit. That is tied to the Games and we are not going to have the Games going on constantly.
"The challenge is to make the park work well, day in, day out, in normal times – not to pretend that you can recreate the adrenalin rush.”
This rather brutal summary of the task facing the corporation, the organisation that will take control of the park after the Paralympics, neatly sums up Moylan.
The charismatic Conservative councillor is not afraid to say what he thinks and ruffle a few feathers saying it. He has been described in the past as a Conservative Peter Mandelson – a fierce intellect with a rather sinister demeanour.
Given the task ahead of him, these could be useful qualities.
Moylan must put sentiment aside to clinically oversee a major £300m construction project to convert the Olympic Park into its post-Games life, while at the same time make hard-headed business decisions about the future of key venues.
The project involves the demolition of temporary venues, namely the Basketball Arena, water polo venue and the home of hockey at the Riverbank Arena, as well as the removal of temporary seating attached to the Aquatics Centre.
A collection of British companies are involved, such as Balfour Beatty, which will also build new bridges, walkways and create a cultural square.
The scale of the works means that the northern part of the ark, including the Velodrome, is not due to open until July 2013. The area around the stadium will open in 2014.
However, there remain obstacles in the way of these plans.
One of the reasons Moylan was parachuted into the corporation in June by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is because of the Olympic Stadium. The most iconic building on the park still has an uncertain future.
While the Aquatics Centre and Copper Box will be run by leisure centre operator Greenwich Leisure Limited for municipal and professional use, and the velodrome and BMX track will become part of a leisure area called the London VeloPark, the stadium has no operator or tenant.
The only thing guaranteed for the stadium is that the athletics track will remain to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships.
Initial plans in 2005 to remove the top tier of seating and leave the structure as a pure athletics venue seating just 25,000 were shelved after a deal was struck to award the stadium to West Ham United. However, this fell foul of legal challenges earlier this year.
Now, the corporation has drawn up a shortlist of four parties to lease the stadium. West Ham is still the favourite, but faces rival bids from Leyton Orient football club, a sports business college and a party planning to turn the site into a Formula One circuit.
Moylan says a deal should be struck in the next few months. It has to be, otherwise the reopening of the park could be delayed.
However, he also accepts that the stadium does not necessarily need a regular tenant.
The opening and closing ceremonies for London 2012 demonstrated that the stadium could be an iconic music venue.
“You could envisage a future for the stadium without a regular tenant, but we are aiming to have a regular tenant,” Moylan says.
“We are in the process of selecting a regular tenant but if we can’t work out a deal with a regular tenant that makes sense, then you could envisage a future without a regular tenant. But we are aiming for one.”
The stadium, however, is just one part of Moylan’s role.
His key aim is to turn the Olympic Park into a new community and “not just a set of venues”. Moylan wants to create jobs, house families and attract visitors.
The corporation has secured planning permission for 11,000 homes on the park and is trying to complete a deal to lease the enormous press and broadcast centre to an ambitious technology consortium that has pledged to create 4,000 jobs.
“I think it will be hugely regenerative for the area,” says Moylan. “It will provide lots of jobs, and we want to try to make sure that as many of those jobs go to local people as possible. If you are in trouble, then a job is the best way out of it.
“We also want to see housing. Some of it will be affordable housing, but there will also be private housing. I don’t feel apologetic because there will be private housing.
“One of the problems for people in this area is that if they do well, they have to move out. It is not about shipping in loads of people from the west of London, taking all the jobs.
"This is about giving opportunities for people who do well here so they can stay here.”
Despite the issues with the Olympic Stadium, the fact that investors from around the world are interested in the park and surrounding area shows the legacy project can be a success.
Not only has Westfield built its Stratford City shopping centre next door, but Qatar has bought the Athletes’ Village to turn into houses, and Moylan hopes overseas pension funds will invest in future housing developments on the park.
“The way we see it now is that essentially the boundaries of London are moving east and this is part of that development,” says Moylan. “You say that to people who are Londoners and they say they don’t recognise that and it’s a bit odd. But the foreigners get it.
“This is a new boundary. It is our job to try to help that along, unblock things really.”
Scuba Divers support the Games in 2012, do you? Anonymous