So will London be ready? (And within its budget?)

As Beijing 2008 ends, attention turns to the countdown to the next Olympiad. Amol Rajan surveys the preparations – and tests the Mayor's claim that London can deliver on time and on budget
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The Independent Online

1 Olympic Stadium

This 80,000-seat venue will cover 40 acres, five times the size of the Houses of Parliament, and will be 10ft taller than Nelson's Column. Thirty-three buildings have been destroyed to accommodate it. Work on the foundations started three months ahead of schedule in July but the £496m cost is close to double the 2004 estimate. After the Games, the number of seats will be reduced to 25,000 and, if a sponsor can be found, a specialist sports city academy will be housed there.



2 Aquatic Centre

In the south-east of the Olympic Park, Zaha Hadid's waving timber roof design is the most eye-catching architecture of the Games. Its cost has risen from £73m to £303m, largely to accommodate a bridge linking the pool with Stratford town centre. The only design put forward before the Games were secured, it will contain a 50m competition pool, a 25m diving pool, a 50m warm-up pool, and a temporary 5,000-seat venue for training and water polo. The competition pool will have 17,500 seats. Construction began two months early in July. The 2,800-tonne roof will be 160m long and 95m at its widest. After the Games, the centre will be for community use, with a public plaza and crèche added.



3 International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and Main Press Centre (MPC)

Between them, these two buildings will be bigger than the main tower at Canary Wharf. In total, the £400m project will encompass 1.3 million sq ft (120,000 sq m) of office space, 20 per cent bigger than the O2 and 300,000 sq ft (90,000 sq m) bigger than Canary Wharf. The 75,000 sq m IBC will be two storeys high, while the 45,000 sq m MPC will be four storeys tall. They will host 20,000 journalists. Developers Carillion Igloo will lease the space during the Games and sell it off after, aiming to create 8,000 new jobs in digital and creative industries. Planning permission is expected by the end of the year, with construction starting after Christmas.



4 Olympic Village

Construction work on the £1bn village began in June but funding remains a cause for concern. Lend Lease, the Australian developer expected to provide £450m of funding, is struggling to raise funds because of the credit crunch. Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said last week that a deal is expected by Christmas. The village will provide beds for 17,320 athletes and officials during the Olympic Games and 8,756 athletes and officials during the Paralympic Games in several 12-storey buildings and four 30-storey towers. The number of apartments has been reduced from 4,200 to 3,300, meaning five people rather than four to each. Athletes will be accommodated no higher than the eighth floor to save them walking up too many stairs. There will be shops, medical, music, and leisure facilities, a water feature and restaurants. The apartments will be sold off as residential homes, 30 per cent as affordable housing.



5 Paralympic stadium

A new venue designed by architects Stanton Williams is being built on Eton Manor. Doubling up as a training centre during the Games, it will provide 10,500 seats for wheelchair tennis and 3,000 seats for Paralympic archery. After, the venue will be converted into a hockey stadium, indoor tennis centre and five-a-side football pitch. The cost has not yet been published.



6 Velopark

A consortium of architects – Expedition Engineering, BDSP, Grant Associates, and Hopkins Architects – are designing the £80m velodrome and BMX circuit. Building will start early next year. Both venues will be permanent and both will contain 6,000 seats – but the seats from the BMX circuit will be removed after the Games and road cycle and mountain bike courses will be added for community use.

7 Hockey Centre

A temporary 20,000-seat venue by the Media centre. Designs will be submitted at the end of next year. Construction will start in 2010 and be completed 2011. After the Games, the Hockey Centre will relocate to Eton Manor where it will be furnished with 5,000 permanent seats as a multi-sport centre.

8 Handball

A prestigious consortium of architects – Make Architects and Ove Arup & Partners – will submit a planning application and its preliminary designs next month, with a view to completing the building in 2011. The stadium will boast 7,000 seats and host handball, modern pentathlon, and goalball. After the Olympics, it will be handed over to the community. The budget has not yet been published.

9 Basketball

A four-pronged design team – Sinclair Knight Merz, Nussli International, Wilkinson Eyre and KSS Design Group – agreed a basic design in June and will submit a planning application in November. There will be 12,000 seats for basketball and handball matches, and 10,000 seats for wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. The arena will be dismantled after the Games. The budget has not yet been published.



0 Stratford Regional and International train stations

Games chiefs are aiming to get 100 per cent of spectators to the Games by public transport, cycle, or foot. That means moving 500,000 people daily. The major new transport development on the Olympic site will be the extension of Stratford Regional station and the creation of Stratford International station. Eurostar trains are already passing through Stratford International station, and will eventually take passengers to King's Cross in just seven minutes on the Javelin service when the station opens next December. The journey time from Stratford to Paris will be less than two hours. Stratford is currently served by the Central and Jubilee Lines, overground services from Liverpool Street station, the North London Line (which is being extended) and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Its upgrade will cost £104m. Four new DLR stations are being built: Stratford International, Stratford High Street, Abbey Road, and Star Lane.



11 Westfield Shopping Centre

Westfield, the Australian construction group, is the biggest retail property developer in the world. In Stratford they are developing a £1.5bn, 180-acre development which will be the largest shopping centre in London when it opens in 2011 and will house the biggest Marks & Spencer in the country.

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