Olympic legacy director leaves early

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Tom Russell, the urban regeneration expert who was supposed to be in charge of ensuring a long–term legacy for London 2012's Olympic Park, has left his post after only a year in the role.

Russell was appointed as group director of Olympic legacy for the London Development Agency by Ken Livingstone in January 2008. Russell arrived having been widely acclaimed for leading the regeneration work after the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games. But his blueprint for the post–Games transformation of the £7bn Olympic Park has been overshadowed by concerns about the stadium, particularly whether there should be a major football team as the anchor tennat. The stadium will be reduced in capacity from 80, 000 to 25, 000 after 2012 with an estimated pricetag of £547m making it the most expensive venue of its size in the world. As chief executive of the New East Manchester Regeneration Company, Russell oversaw the successful conversion of Manchester's Commonwealth Games sports facilities. Russell, who began his career with Hammersmith and Fulham council, will serve out his three months' notice but has no plans to work on the Olympic project. The task of attracting investment to the Olympic park passes to London mayor Boris Johnson's recently formed legacy company headed by Baroness Ford, a former bank executive. She will work within a 'legacy masterplan framework' devised by Russell which sets out a 30–year plan for thousands of new jobs and homes in an around the Lower Lea Valley. Russell said: " The stadium has been a difficult issue and I understand why the focus has been on that – athletics is the blue riband event and the iconic venue. The proposals appear counter–intuitive and people are bound to ask why there's not football there. The approach we are taking is bound to be questioned because nobody has done it before. But if we get a school in there and sports governing bodies it will be held up as a model. "

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