Barcelona's Olympic regeneration 'a beacon for London'
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Barcelona's Olympic regeneration 'a beacon for London'
London 2012 will never stop learning from past Olympic host cities - that was the message today from Tessa Jowell and Seb Coe, as they visited Barcelona and praised it for its success in securing a long-term legacy from the Games.
They were leading a high-level British group that also included David Higgins, the Chief Executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, a key advisor to the Mayor of London and a British Olympian making her first visit to Barcelona since 1992.
The London 2012 party were welcomed by the Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, and given a guided tour of key locations by the city's chief architect, Josep Acebillo - before having a working lunch with leading figures involved in its transformation before and after the 1992 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
"We have gone to Barcelona to look and learn. What they have achieved continues to inspire us and to prove that hosting the Games really can change a city and a country for the better," said Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.
"We studied the Barcelona experience when we were deciding whether to bid for 2012. But now this is for real and I am determined that we will repeat its tremendous achievements - a series of exciting projects that breathe fresh life into the city, a revitalised waterfront, whole new districts and better public transport."
The Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, welcomed the delegation from London 2012.
He said: "The Barcelona Games in 1992 were, and are, a key turning point in the urban, social and economic development of the city. Not only due to their international dimension, which placed Barcelona on the world map with a specific significance, but also due to their unquestionable legacy.
"The Barcelona project did not end with the success of the games; rather this success was only the beginning of a transformation at every level that still continues today.
"I believe that every Olympic city should look beyond the sports event itself and use it as a springboard to design forward-looking development strategies.
"It is therefore vital to engage with the public and with all the sectors involved in the city's economy in order to ensure that the project is successful."
Seb Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), said: "The Barcelona Games were in a of their own.
"Their vision to put sport at the heart of an ambitious transformation that changed the fortunes of the city and its people was inspired. Our task now is to take the best of Barcelona and build upon it.
"Legacy and sustainability are the new tenets of the Olympic movement and we are committed to planning the Games in tandem with the long term needs and aspirations of the community."
The London group saw the Olympic Village, built to house athletes competing in the Games, and one of them, fencer Julia Bracewell, returned to the city for the first time since 1992.
She now chairs sportscotland and sits on the London 2012 Nations and Regions group, set up to ensure benefits reach all parts of the UK.
They also visited the new 22@ district, where thousands of new jobs are being created on an under-used brownfield site, before meeting local politicians and experts to exchange views.
David Higgins, Chief Executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, said: "I think we can learn a lot from what Barcelona achieved in terms of urban regeneration and I am delighted to be able to be here today to witness this first-hand.
"We want to learn from what Barcelona got right and use this experience to ensure London 2012 is not only the best Games ever, but also provides real and lasting benefits for generations to come."
The London party also included Jeff Jacobs, the Chief Executive of the Government Olympic Executive, and Professor Ricky Burdett, adviser on architecture to the Mayor of London and a member of the ODA's Design Review Panel.
Meanwhile, the cost of the London 2012 Olympics is set to rise to £5 billion, it has been revealed.
Extra security needed in the wake of the July 7 bombings, an unexpected VAT bill and the the Government's demand for a 60% contingency to safeguard against unforeseen overruns have been blamed for the rise.
The contingency could add hundreds of millions of pounds to the final bill.
Between £1 billion and £1.5 billion is also being asked to underpin the regeneration package of east London's Lower Lea Valley where the Olympics will be based, the London Assembly was told.
Sir Roy McNulty, acting chair of the Olympic Delivery Authority which is charged with creating the Games infrastructure and venues, admitted the costs are going to be "significantly higher" than in the original bid.
Sir Roy and ODA chief executive David Higgins were brought before the London Assembly to try to allay fears that the 2012 Games is already in crisis.
He told the London Assembly that the costs "would not go up on an exponential basis".
This is in stark contrast to his predecessor Jack Lemley, who quit as chair last month, later claiming the Games were in danger of coming in late and over budget.
The Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are expected to set the new ODA budget in February.
Sir Roy said: "Security costs have increased since two years ago and regeneration costs are significantly higher than was allowed for before.
"I believe that an adequate contingency needs to be allowed for a programme that still has six years to run."