LLDC chairman resigns amid London Stadium row

London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), operator of the former Olympic Stadium, has today (Thursday) announced the resignation of chairman David Edmonds amid the latest furore surrounding the redevelopment of the facility.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday ordered a probe into the finances of the London Stadium after being informed that the total cost of transforming the facility into the new home of English Premier League football club West Ham United has risen by a further £51m (€56.5m/$62.2m).

The cost of redeveloping London Stadium from its former status as the centrepiece of the city’s staging of the 2012 summer Olympic Games has now increased from £272m to £323m. Edmonds, who was appointed LLDC chairman in September 2015, had originally joined the board of the Olympic Park Legacy Company in 2010 and continued as a LLDC board member since its inception in 2012.

He also chaired the board of E20 LLP, the joint venture between the London Borough of Newham and the LLDC, responsible for the London Stadium and has played a leading role in planning for and delivering the post-Games legacy programme.

David Goldstone, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “David has made an enormous contribution to the legacy of the London 2012 Games and he has helped to steer the organisation through some extremely challenging issues. We thank him for all his hard work and wish him well in the future.”

The estimated annual cost of moving so-called retractable seating is said to be one of the key factors behind the rise in cost. The cost of the seating, installed to improve the matchday experience for football, has increased from an estimated £300,000 to £8m.

Moving the seating is also now said to take 15 days at a time, instead of the originally planned five days, which could impact on a busy summer event schedule in which London Stadium is due to host the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships and World ParaAthletics Championships, along with concerts.

The latest increases take the total cost of the stadium to £752m, all of which has been met by the British taxpayer apart from a £15m one-off contribution to the conversion project from West Ham. In April, the LLDC confirmed that West Ham will pay £2.5m per season in rent for the London Stadium, which the club moved into at the start of the 2016-17 football season under a 99-year lease deal.

Khan yesterday (Wednesday) told UK broadcaster Sky News he wanted to avoid a “knee-jerk” conclusion on how the costs have increased, but added that “nobody was in favour of such a large amount of taxpayers' money… being spent on the conversion”.

He said: “Nobody knew, least of all me as the mayor, that the annual cost would be between £7m and £8m a year for these retractable seats, and there are big questions that need to be asked about how poor decisions were made and what we do going forward.”