Demolition threat to Hackney’s Olympic media centre

FRESH fears have surfaced over the future of Hackney’s largest Olympic venue after claims it could be on track for demolition.

FRESH fears have surfaced over the future of Hackney’s largest Olympic venue after claims it could be on track for demolition.

The warning came ahead of a London Assembly report being released today (Friday) into the Olympic media centre.

Andrew Boff, Olympic spokesman for the assembly’s Conservatives and a former Hackney councillor and mayoral candidate, says knocking down the centre after the Games may avoid wasting huge sums of public money.

The taxpayer has already bankrolled the �308 million centre Wick, made up of the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and Main Press Centre (MPC), after the collapse of private financing.

Mr Boff says the bill could soar if big businesses are not secured to take over after 2012. “Don’t let this be a burden for the next 20 years on the taxpayers of both Hackney and London just to realise somebody’s dream,” he said.

“What is important is that we fill the centre with industries that provide employment, but you can’t exclude the option of demolition.”

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Under the terms of its planning consent, the IBC will have to be pulled down if it fails to find suitable tenants or buyers by 2017.

Mr Boff says the structure – once touted as a future home for the BBC, ITV or Sky – may prove difficult to promote. “I like to call it a shed,” he said, “one big shed that isn’t desperately well-designed.

“The pillars are too close together, it won’t have any heating in there, it isn’t particularly good for public transport. It is massive and there has not been any significant interest in advance.

“The fact of the matter is that the ODA hasn’t developed the legacy Hackney thought it was buying into.”

IBC/MPC will provide 84,000 square metres of business space once the expected 20,000 broadcasters, photographers and journalists – communicating to an audience of four billion – leave after the three-week extravaganza

A spokesman for The Olympic Park Legacy Company, which is launching a marketing push later this month, said: “There has been early interest in the legacy use of the buildings from a range of sectors including media, creative, retail, education, sports activity, culture and office use.”

A spokesman for the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) said it had always stated there would be no white elephants left after the Games.

Future occupants could make changes, developers say.

Hackney Council’s is hoping creative industries will move in and provide 5,000 jobs.

A council spokeswoman said the IBC/MPC offered an “unprecedented opportunity to create a new employment hub in Hackney Wick” and that it was too early to suggest “extreme measures” including demolition.