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Funding on 2012 village gives ODA ‘most concern’

The Olympic Delivery Authority might have to go to the Government to bail out the scheme to build the athletes’ village, according to chairman John Armitt.

The news comes in the week the ODA’s annual report admitted there was a one in five chance that the 2012 Games will not hit their £7 billion budget and will have to dip into the £1 billion contingency fund.

In it, the ODA said: “Using standard cost modelling techniques our assessment is that there is an 80 per cent probability that the programme of 50 individual projects can be delivered within the £7,095 million budget.”

The athletes’ village carries an overall price tag of around £1 billion – including development costs – and developer Lend Lease is expected to raise around half of this through the banks.

Piling work on the project has already begun but the ODA and developer Lend Lease have still not signed off a deal with the banks to fund the work.

This week ODA chairman John Armitt said: “Finance for the village is giving us the most concern. Negotiations with the banks are difficult and slow.

“We are continuing to negotiate with them but if they don’t lend us as much as we’d like we will have to go back to central government and seek their support.”

The ODA is meeting Lend Lease every week and is publicly saying it will wrap up a deal with the banks by the end of the year.

But privately it is admitting that its plan B could involve using some of the money Government gives to housing associations via the Housing Corporation.

Both affordable housing developer First Base and East Thames Housing Association are involved in the work since around a third of the flats in legacy will be social housing.

In its annual report, the ODA says risks that could blow its budget include the interdependency of projects on the Olympic Park, unexpected ground conditions and the availability of materials. The ODA has already pre-ordered 10,000 tonnes of steel for the site.

The ODA said it spent £858 million on preparing the East London site for construction and designing the venues up to March this year.

Chief executive David Higgins picked up over £500,000 for his work over the past year.

Mr Armitt, who has been chairman since September 2007, was paid £144,000. Director of construction Howard Shiplee took home £326,000.