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Olympic Legacy (Young People)

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

The Olympics sporting venues in east London and around the UK will be available for use after the Olympics in a way that involves residents of all levels of ability, from starters to elite athletes. That is a fundamental aspect of the Olympic legacy ambition.

The legacy business plans being prepared for the sports venues—including the stadium in the park, the aquatics centre and the velodrome and velopark—have the provision of affordable access for young people at their heart. Some 500,000 visits a year are anticipated for the aquatics centre, of which more than 100,000 will be use by schools for swimming lessons.

The stadium will include, in addition to a 25,000-seat, International Association of Athletics Federations-compliant athletics facility, provision for a school and a sports academy, providing skills training focused on the 18 to 24 age group. Central to that is the affordability of entrance. I remember my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott)—who is no longer in her place—making the point some years ago that the legacy will mean nothing if the facilities cannot be afforded by people who live in the area. I absolutely and wholeheartedly endorse that point, and we are working to ensure that that promise is delivered.

I am grateful for the Minister’s response, which gave good news of progress. How far have we gone in obtaining an anchor tenant for the Olympic stadium?

The question of an anchor tenant is a bit of an obsession—[Interruption.] It is a misguided obsession, because we already have a commitment to a school, so that between 300 and 400 young people will attend school at the Olympic stadium and legacy every day. Hundreds of young people will use the stadium as the base for their skills learning and development. It will be a base for the English Institute of Sport, and it will host major athletics events. Although there will be a management structure, there will be not a single anchor tenant—on the basis of present negotiation—but a wide range of central sporting interests that will ensure that it is a living stadium, used every day of the year.

Will the Minister give the House a little more detail of what practical action is being taken now to ensure that these expensive venues have a long-lasting legacy for all the people of London and beyond in future years?

I can give the hon. Gentleman a lot of practical information about that, including the way in which, in several instances such as the aquatics centre, the designs have been amended—sometimes at additional cost—to ensure that they can be properly adapted for community use after the games have finished. Extra money is being spent on the velodrome which will be the best and fastest in the world. I have also outlined specific proposals for the Olympic stadium. No city has ever been this advanced before in planning the legacy use of its Olympic venues and honouring its commitment to young people, who will be the principal beneficiaries.

One proposed legacy use for the Olympic park is as a university, and the Government are in discussions about that. What is the estimated cost, how much public subsidy might be required and how much finance has been proposed by private financiers?

There have been discussions with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and, particularly, with the Higher Education Funding Council. There is an agreement to carry out a feasibility study, and there is also interest in collaboration with a Beijing university, which the Mayor and I have been discussing since the games in the summer. Once the feasibility study is concluded, the hon. Gentleman’s questions will be answered.