Debt-The true Olympic legacy…continued

Further to our earlier post, the Future Communities blog  points out that the recent riots “diverted attention from the  decision by the Government and the Mayor’s Office to reject a £1bn bid by the Wellcome Trust to transform the Olympic Park into a science and technology hub.”

Instead of creating up to 7000 new jobs, turning the Olympic village into a new research and innovation facility, its sale to Qatari Diar and Delancey Estates, the two property development companies who have recently acquired it for £557m (with a staggering £275m loss) is a shortsighted one.

Unemployment in the east end boroughs of London are among the highest in London and the prospect of creation thousands of jobs for local residents is yet another wasted opportunity.

Click London Olympics for more blogs.
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Battersea Power Station owners deep in debt

REO co-owner Rob Tincknell

Property firm REO, whose portfolio includes Battersea Power Station, owes millions of euro to its banks, and to the Irish taxpayer.

The company owes a total of €2bn to its banks. This includes nearly €1bn owed to Nama, Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency – set up by the Irish government to take on the debts of banks bailed out in the financial crisis.

With a property portfolio valued at €1.3bn (including the Battersea site, whose valuation is problematic in itself), the company’s debts now far outstrip its assets.

That’s not the end of REO’s problems: it recorded a pre-tax loss of £900m for the 14 months to February 2010. The announcement of those accounts, in June this year, caused a 50% fall in the company’s share price, taking it down to just 8 pence per share, and a market value below £40m. The company is not in good financial health.

So it’s perhaps not surprising that REO are looking to separate the potentially lucrative Battersea Power Station site from the company as a whole. They hope to draw off the property into a separate company, and list it on the stock market before the end of the year.

Investment partners are being sought to help fund the project, with international property groups and Middle Eastern wealth funds thought to be expressing interest.

But these grand plans could be brought to a halt if Wandsworth Borough Council decide not to grant planning permission. Elsewhere on the Spectacle Blog you can find out more about the historical preservation groups who are opposing the developer’s plans for the site.

You can also watch our interview with Alex Baldwin of the Victorian Society and other clips about the power station in the Spectacle video archive.

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Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Battersea Power Station project pages for more information and videos.

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Hold Olympics 2012 in Athens

Grafitti Athens 2004

Graffiti Athens 2004

The Greek government spent €25 billion on the Olympics. The austerity package they are undergoing will save €30 billion. Their plight therefore seems to be an Olympic Legacy effect. They also have expensive unwanted sports facilities rotting away unused.

The just as debt laden UK government proposes to find £6 billion in cuts in the coming year. The London Olympic 2012 project is costing £9 billion and rising.

I would therefore suggest that the Olympics 2012 are held in Athens and the London project is stopped before they vandalise Greenwich park and rip up the Hackney Marshes. This would allow the Greeks to get some use out of their sports facilities and perhaps earn some money to pay off  some of their debts. Recycling the buildings would also make it a greener low impact Olympics.

By the way the London 2012 organisers have not got insurance to cover the loss of revenue if the Icelandic volcano erupts and disrupts flights. Would you bet against it NOT erupting during the games?

Click London Olympics for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.

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Changing face of poverty

Save the Children recently announced it would be giving emergency cash grants to families in poverty due a massive increase in food prices and worrying increase in malnutrition amongst babies and pregnant women. These families are not the ones that Save the Children normally deal with, they are not in refugee camps or war-zones but in cities and towns across the UK.

With the recession taking hold unemployment has soared and so has the price of food; according to the Guardian the cost of food rose by 11.3% in the year to February, and within that the cost of vegetables has risen by 18.6%. This is leading to new levels of poverty amongst children and families in Britain say Save the Children.

Save the Children argue that many people are facing terrible problems with debt, not because they are frivolous as suggested by some of the media but because they have had to rely on credit for basic essentials. Now the safety net of easy credit has been removed people find they are stuck with high repayments and no new income and end up cutting their food budgets to compensate.

With organisations like Save the Children and Oxfam turning their attention to the UK’s poor is it time we changed our perception of what poverty looks like?

Does the media do enough to let us know about poverty on our own doorstep?

Is it easier to pretend poverty only exists in foreign countries?

For more clips from our Poverty and  The Media project please visit our Archive

To find out more information about our Poverty and The Media project please visit our Project Page



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