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The Athletes' Village - Who Will Pick Up The Baton?

The Athletes' Village - Who Will Pick Up The Baton?

It was great to see the piece in The Herald last weekend, focusing on the success of the Athletes' Village project in helping to drive forward regeneration in the East End of Glasgow. I was directly involved in supporting City Legacy through the bid process – and it brought back memories of the technical challenges and strategic choices that had to be made, as we worked against tight deadlines (and unseen competitors) to create and refine what we hoped would be the most attractive bid.

Then, we were looking at documents and drawings; now, the physical outcome is there to see – and, by all accounts, doing everything that it was hoped it would do. Capitalising on the Games to create a development that signals full confidence in the East End as a location; and confirming that high quality design and high energy performance are key ingredients in achieving market success, rather than costs to be trimmed back at every opportunity.

The Herald article focused on the partnership working within the consortium itself – but I think we need to look wider than that in tracing the success factors for this project. The Council made a bold move at the outset, in pushing the boundaries on conventional procurement practice – building in a community benefit package which insisted on measurable outcomes on jobs and training, as well as identifiable contributions towards support to small businesses and (a first in this context) support to social enterprises.

That in turn was a catalyst that encouraged engagement with the local development company on training and work placements, the social enterprise support agency on capacity building for local social enterprises... and of course Clyde Gateway was a key partner throughout, ensuring that what was emerging in the Athletes Village was aligned with its wider, and massively ambitious, vision for the Clyde Gateway area as a whole.

So – on the face of it, an exemplar of partnership working in regeneration.

But there will be only one Commonwealth Games for Glasgow, the lending environment for higher-risk development remains very challenging, and local authority budgets are heading towards an even greater squeeze.

How do we make the most of a much-diminished pot, in terms of public funding, to maintain the momentum? Joint ventures with the private sector are all very well, but how can best value be demonstrated at a time when land valuation seems so hit-and-miss? Are new funding models – whether TIFs, annuity funding, or (the new kid on the block) City Deals - going to be the magic key? And at a time when the Scottish Government strategy seems to be focusing more on community-led regeneration, is the commitment to giving more priority to the “people” aspects of regeneration and more support to the development trust sector sufficient to counteract the negative impacts of reduced spend on large-scale regeneration initiatives? Can the private sector pick up the ball on regeneration; and if so, how can the public sector – and potentially the third sector – best engage to drive forward new and more effective partnerships for regeneration?

These are the questions that will be explored at our forthcoming Look Who’s Coming To Dinner event on 29 May 2014 – I’m looking forward to a really interesting debate!

If you have not had a chance to reserve your place at the event, please contact Elaine Creamer on
+44 (0)131 473 6181 or email elaine.creamer@burnesspaull.com

Stephen Phillips