Transcript of David Higgins keynote speech at the 2007 Thames by tyndale


									Transcript of David Higgins’ keynote
speech at the 2007 Thames Gateway Forum
28 November, 2007, 11.15, London, ExCeL

Introduction: David Taylor, co-chair of the Thames Gateway Advisory Board
and chairman, Silvertown Quays
Keynote speech: David Higgins, chief executive of the ODA

David Taylor: It’s my pleasure to introduce David Higgins. David’s the chief
exec of the ODA. David has got a pretty amazing background, an outstanding
career in the private sector with Lend Lease, working internationally.
In 2002 David was recruited to be chief exec of English Partnerships, so a
background in development, and chief exec of EP, so we have a couple of
things in common. In 2005 David was appointed as chief exec designate of
the ODA, so I’ve been working with David over the past year or so; I’m on the
ODA board, so we've been working very, very closely together.
Again, I did mention this earlier, that at the moment London 2012 is treated
rather generally as a bad news story, and again nothing could be further from
the truth. We had a two-day board meeting last week; I’ve been involved in a
few decent sized projects in my time, but we went on Thursday morning to the
main Olympic site and the progress that’s being made there is nothing short of
I won’t cover the issues; the power lines are already undergrounded, the land
is entirely assembled, the largest planning application, I think, probably in the
world has been approved in pretty record time, so the progress is just
amazing and it’s going to be such a fantastic project for London and for the
country, so with or no more ado can I introduce to you David Higgins?
David Higgins: Thank you, David, for that introduction. And I’m delighted to
be here with our Olympic sponsor, EDF Energy, who are a great sponsor for
That’s a slide of the site taken about a week ago and it shows the whole
extent of the site, over 600 acres, and as David just said, I can see change
already. There’s the site of the stadium in the foreground there, and of course
the major centre there being the village and the site there. So huge progress,
given that vacant possession only occurred a little over three months ago.
What I want to do today is run through our major milestones for the project
and update you on these - with plenty of pictures, because I understand
pictures are a great way to visualise the site. I’m on the stand later on, 12
o’clock, so I can answer more detailed questions there.

So the first big milestone, which was achieving vacant possession and closing
the roads on the site, was achieved very successfully. Our partner, the LDA,
did a fantastic job. It was incredibly complicated; 2,000 individual titles or
rights to land and a relocation of over 98% of all the employees on the site.
So the first milestone, the clearing of the site; clearing is well underway on the
project now. This is on the aquatic centre site. I was on site yesterday with
one of my old bosses and he said that it is actually a massive recycling site;
it’s an industrial scale, 600-acre, recycling plant that’s stripping out and
separating out material, and then reusing it on a scale I don’t think we've ever
achieved before. And these are the machines that do it. This is one of the
three big soil washing plants for the site, on this area here. The remediation
work started in July 2007. The majority will be finished by next year, at the
time of the Beijing Olympics, in July 2008.

That’s the old university towers, University of East London residential towers.
We started demolition of these a bit over a month ago, and they’re now fully
demolished. In the background you can see the Clays Lane estate, again fully
demolished as well. That’s there on the Olympic stadium site, so even some
of the site was only taken possession of over a month, demolition is well
underway. That’s another picture there from the stadium site as well. You can
see the starting of the bowl, so that’s right where, in five years’ time, gold
medals will be won.
Our next major milestone was undergrounding the power lines. This is one of
the many shafts, permanent structures that go down to the actual
undergrounding power lines, 10km of tunnels. As you’ll see in the next slide,
work is well and truly underway with National Grid and EDF on the fitting out
of these tunnels. That’s the cable trays going in. We've got about 40% of all
the cables now installed, on track for switch over of power mid next year,
which allows us to demolish the towers.
Our next major milestone is the temporary access roads and bridges, 20km of
loop road and site roads need to be built. This is one of the many access
bridges to the site.
A huge job is underway to dredge the existing waterways, canals and locks, to
clean them up and repair the canal sides, in many cases break open the sides
of the canals to make them better from an environmental point of view.
This is Prescott Lock, which is just south of the site. When complete next year
it will make it easier to clean up the waterways, because we’ll have a set
water level. It will also allow 200t barges to come up into the Lee river for
handling materials in and materials out, and will be important for Crossrail,
because one of the key portals for this project is adjacent to the Olympic site.
This is the Stratford International Station. Next key milestone, milestone
number six, much of the work is underway already on the major capital
projects, a huge amount of work is going on at Stratford Regional Station now,
and about £120m is being invested to upgrade the station to cope with the

demand after the Games. Work on the DLR is well underway too, and work on
the Javelin service is going well.
The next major milestone, milestone number seven, is to start work on the
major venues. This is the aquatic centre site. If you look out at night from
Canary Wharf, you see this twinkling in the night of 170 excavators on the site
and fifty 20t dump trucks.
It looks like a fairyland for a plant hire company, I have to say, but there’s a
massive amount of equipment now on the site, cleaning and creating the
ground. The first of the bridge foundations for the aquatic centre has already
been constructed and by mid next year we will have started work on both the
stadium and the aquatic centre site. So all of the remediation work on the
aquatic centre, which has been one of the most contaminated sites, is now
well underway.
That’s a view of what will be inside the aquatic centre. A number of people
have asked how much money are we spending on this, and I say, “Well, look
at the current capacity within a city of eight million people, international
standard diving facilities, leisure water facilities, and swimming and training
pools; this will more than double the capacity of London in terms of its
international standard pools, and post Games it will be a facility that can hold
European Championships, so it’s a fantastic design, it’s a project that will be
finished ahead of time to allow test events to be carried out within good time,”.
That’s another view of the project post Games, so you can see the finishing
off of the glass façades there to complete the overall design. Design work on
that is also well underway.
The stadium design, launched early, a few weeks back, is very successful.
Innovation of the stadium is such that it’s something that other cities, other
Olympic bidding cities, are looking at; a sustainable stadium which allows for
the incredible capacity of the Olympics, both in track and field and
ceremonies, but then is suitable for the local community.
I can’t do justice to the presentation that Rod Sheard gave to the media, but I
thought it worthwhile revisiting once again the great video that he and his
team prepared.
[Video transcript]
Welcome to the next stage in our journey to the Olympic and the Paralympic
Games in London in 2012, and I will never tire of saying that. The Olympic
spirit is about finding the best in ourselves. London 2012 will be that and
They really have completely transformed the capital. In 2012 the Games
came to London. It’s an Olympic record. It’s a world record. The positive
impact of these Games will be felt for decades to come.
David Higgins: That was a great video. When you next go to Wembley, to
understand the size and scale, look at the green grass on Wembley and
realise that the field of play here is twice the size, and it’s got 80,000 seats

around it. So that’s the challenge of designing something for all the Olympic
sports, including Para Games, as well as for opening and closing ceremonies.
This is perfect; everything’s working like a dream. So this is the village and
you’ll see the Lend Lease stand shows the Olympic Village. This design has
been enhanced over the past year, making sure that the urban space, post
Games, is a better place for a community to live in.
But this great park in the middle of the Olympic park will be a tremendous
feature of the village. I think it will be the best village ever. It’s a reasonably
high density village compared to previous Olympics, but it’s designed entirely
around legacy.
We've got some fantastic designers working on the project nowadays, from
the designers working on the village, six or eight leading UK designers,
through to Hopkins here on the velodrome - this is the conceptual design on
the velodrome - right through to Zaha Hadid on the aquatic centre, and the
appointment on basketball of the Wilkinson Eyre consortium.
But the velodrome is much more than a velodrome. It’s much more than what
will be the largest cycling facility in Europe in terms of capacity and seating. It
will have BMX as well, mountain biking, road racing and speed trials. It will
offer an entire integrated cycling experience.
That’s a picture of the park and legacy, but importantly what I want to talk
about now is our relationship with the community, with the local authorities,
and the mayor and the LDA and legacy.
One thing we've learned from previous Games is it’s no use thinking about
legacy when the Games finish; here we’re thinking about the post Games
legacy now. We’re planning for success and the ODA is setting up the
discussion with the community of what’s the right solution for the community
post Games now, over the next two years.
It’s called the Legacy Master Plan Framework. It’s a dialogue with community
and local political leaders and business to ensure that the community after the
Games is successful. It will result in a planning application for all the land
that’s not built on with permanent venues, that will be available after the
Games. Planning application will be made to us, the ODA, probably in 2009 or
early 2010 for approval. So we’re planning for the overall design of the park
and the community as well as the governance and the funding of that now, in
advance of completion of the Games.
The Games is much more than physical. I’ve spoken a lot about physical
facilities today, from enabling works through to venues. It’s also about jobs
and skills, employment.
Local businesses, local skills, and our partnership with local businesses is one
of the most important things we can leave behind, so a huge amount of effort
goes into that, in ensuring that local companies can attract business here.
Here are some of the figures; so far, half the contracts have been let to small
and medium enterprises; you can see a substantial contribution of the workers

on the site come from London, roughly half, and of those, come from within he
five boroughs within this area here.
So the great connectivity of this site, its access to public transport, means that
it’s a natural attractor to people to be able to use public transport to get to the
site. In the five boroughs, there are 18,000 people who have been
unemployed long-term. We’re targeting those people.
We’ve got a very active programme with the five boroughs on our job
brokerage work, to ensure that our contractors have the best possible
opportunity to hire and recruit local people to fill those jobs.
Our new training facility is up and running already on Eton Manor, training
people to be able to use earth-moving equipment. We’re also in future looking
at scaffolding and other trades, and setting up practical site training facilities
on the project to ensure that apprentices and the skills that come out of this
project are built into the community.
I suppose the most important thing that I always worry about on this project is
time. Typical projects have a triangle; time, cost and quality, and you always
need to balance those.
In this project, time is everything, because if we get time wrong, everything
else is going to suffer. Quality will suffer, design will suffer and the budget will
So we are fixated on hitting our milestones, so no apology for today focusing
on the ten milestones to Beijing. We went there very publicly nine months ago
and set out those milestones in advance of our programme, so that you could
see how we were performing. We want to be transparent. We’ll be coming out
in the next two weeks to update the public on how we have performed half
way through that period, the period to the opening of the Beijing Games.
So far, we’ve hit our milestones. It’s a result of reasonable success in
We’re not naïve. I expect us to be challenged by significant issues going
forward and that’s why we have a healthy contingency, that’s why we plan and
target all of our programmes to start our projects early, to insist on meeting
milestone dates.
So, thank you for your attention today. I hope you enjoyed it and I’ll be back
on the stand. We’ve got other members of the ODA also in various forums
throughout the Thames Gateway Forum. And I just thought walking around
today, what a great set of stands. Every time I come here each year, I think
the stands get better and I hope the whole Forum is a great success. Thank


To top