Games plan

London’s success in securing the 2012 Olympic Games will lead to new legislation for the development of the sites. Simon Ricketts reports

But delivery of the 2012 Olympic Games will be dependent on existing planning and compulsory purchase procedures, although the creation of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), with wide-ranging powers extending across the country, is proposed in the London Olympics Bill.

In October 2004, the London Development Agency (LDA) received a series of planning permissions for the proposed Olympic Park and athletes village from the four relevant local planning authorities – the London Borough of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest, who together formed the Joint Planning Authorities Team. Planning permissions will need to be in place for the other venues throughout the country, whether for new facilities, extensions to existing facilities or just for amendments of current operating conditions. The Olympic Park permissions themselves are subject to many planning conditions, which will need to be discharged by the submission of a vast quantity of detailed design and technical work.

The LDA has been in negotiations with the 350 or so businesses which will need to be permanently relocated in order for work to be carried out on building the Olympic Park. It is currently preparing a compulsory purchase order to acquire all necessary land interests.

So what does the London Olympics Bill seek to achieve?

The ODA will be created as an urban development corporation. It will consist of 7 to 11 members. Its functions will include any actions it thinks are necessary or expedient to take in order to: prepare for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics; make arrangements in preparation for, or in connection with, any premises or facilities acquired, constructed or adapted in preparation for the Olympics; and ensure that adequate arrangements are made for the provision, management and control of facilities for transport in connection with the Olympics.

In particular, the ODA may acquire land (and may pay, with the consent of the Secretary of State, a consideration equivalent to that which it would be required to pay on compulsory purchase), dispose of land and enter into contracts. It must have regard to the “desirability of maximising the benefits to be delivered after the London Olympics from things done in preparation for them” and must “contribute to achieving sustainable development”.

The Secretary of State can designate the ODA as a local planning authority, although if it were to be required to determine one of its own applications, it would need to set up separate committees.

The ODA will have to prepare an Olympic Transport Plan, which will include the construction of transport systems and facilities, as well as proposals for the creation and maintenance of the Olympic Route Network. The Olympic Route Network will comprise those roads which the Secretary of State has designated for the purpose of transport to and from events, or for other purposes connected with the Games. The ODA will be able to designate additional roads and will have powers to make traffic regulation orders. Highway authorities will not be able to exercise any function without the ODA’s approval if the function might reasonably be expected to affect the implementation of the Olympic Transport Plan, any part of the Olympic Route Network, travel to or from an event, or other travel for a purpose connected with the Olympics. The ODA will be able to reverse the effect of anything an authority does that is in breach of this requirement.

The Office of Rail Regulation will have to exercise its functions in a manner that will facilitate the provisions, management and control of facilities for transport in connection with the Games.

The ODA will either use the compulsory purchase powers which it will have by virtue of being designated as a local planning authority, or it will rely on the powers of the London Development Agency and the other regional development agencies, which may, at the ODA’s request, use their powers for the purpose of preparing for the Games, including their powers of compulsory acquisition.

The ODA’s powers do not stop at planning, transportation and land acquisition, but include extensive powers to regulate advertising and street trading and generally to police the Olympics brand.

The bill does not provide any more streamlined compulsory purchase powers or any additional provisions with regard to compensation that might sugar the pill for those who are to be relocated. A public inquiry can be expected next year into any objections. If the Secretary of State decides to confirm the order, possession will be taken, with negotiations over the appropriate level of compensation continuing and to be resolved in due course by referral to the Lands Tribunal if settlements cannot be reached.

The main compensation issue for businesses that have interests taken is likely to be the level of compensation payable for disturbance costs, such as the additional costs and loss of profits incurred by reason of dispossession. While the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 introduced basic loss payments – 7.5 per cent of the value of the owner’s interest, up to a maximum of £75,000 – and additional occupier’s loss payments – a further 2.5 per cent, up to a maximum of £25,000 – in addition to the compensation otherwise payable, the cost of acquiring or renting more costly relocation premises is rarely recoverable. There may also be a natural reluctance to accept compensation sums that disregard any uplift in values attributable to the Olympics project itself, given the uplifts that others, whose land is not to be acquired, may enjoy and retain. The ODA has an Olympian task ahead of it. But the 2012 date is immoveable.

Simon Ricketts is a planning and environmemt partner at SJ Berwin