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Blacker already off the blocks in planning race

Olympic interview special

Gareth Blacker is development director of the London Development Agency and is leading the team co-ordinating the Olympic construction projects. He talks to Joanna Booth

What is the LDA's role in construction project delivery?

The LDA has agreed with central government and Transport for London that it will take responsibility for project work that needs to go ahead before the Olympic Delivery Agency is created.The ODA requires an act of Parliament and we're trying to get it in before the summer recess. It could take 15 to 18 months to get up and running.We anticipate a handover of live contracts when the ODA goes ahead.We want the transition to be as smooth as possible so the idea is to create a sort of shadow ODA from the word go.

What is the LDA's next move?

There are two major projects to let.We've got down to a final shortlist of four for the relocation of two major power lines and we expect to announce the winner next month.We're also responsible for demolition and remediation.We'll plan a strategy for the entire site to get the most cost-effective method, but we may let some smaller specific contracts early to take projects forward in isolation.

Did the announcement on July 6 jumpstart the programme?

Not really, as we'd got an overall timeline for the procurement process anyway.

Many time-critical elements are already going ahead.We're letting design packages.We've had a number of submissions from major consultancies for the programme management package, and the shortlist should come out late this month. In terms of programming the construction of the core facilities, we expect those to go ahead between 2007 and 2011. The exception to this is the aquatic centre, which we will take forward in isolation.

Will you stagger the release of the major construction contracts so the industry is not overwhelmed?

That's something we're taking into consideration.We're also looking at how to provide help with skills training.With careful planning and management I don't foresee any problems. Historically the building stage is not where problems hit big public sector projects - it is in the years before when too much time has been taken on decisions.

What will the major construction projects be?

As well as the £260 million Olympic Stadium, the Olympic Village is a huge project.We're deciding how to structure its delivery. Some of the land belongs to us and some is in the Stratford City site.This is where there is the greatest chance for private sector involvement, as its legacy will be housing.

What will happen in 2013?

We've got masterplan consent. Circulation space will revert to parkland.The village has been earmarked for housing.

The stadium will be deconstructed in part, reducing the capacity from 80,000 to 25,000.The aquatic centre and velodrome will also be scaled down.