When London won the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games, one of the Organising Committee’s chief concerns was to fulfil a commitment from its bid to avoid leaving any ‘white elephants’ by only building permanent venues where they would have a proven legacy. One year on from the Games, it’s clear that this commitment is already being fulfilled.
The long-term legacy of all the permanent venues on the Olympic Park has been secured, with many Olympic venues – both in and out of the park already benefiting local communities. The park itself, meanwhile, started to reopen this summer with major sports, music and cultural events already taking place.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has praised the long-term legacies offered by the Olympic Park, saying: “With a series of world class entertainment and sporting fixtures already in the bag for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, this iconic site is set to be the glittering centrepiece of ambitious regeneration plans for east London, which will capitalise on the Olympic investment into this area for the long term benefit of this city.”
When the Park opens fully in spring 2014, it will provide a world-class hub for performance and community sport, offering a range of 25 indoor and outdoor activities every day, all year round. The iconic Aquatics Centre will offer two 50-metre pools and a diving pool, as well as seating for 2,500 spectators, while the Velodrome will be reopened as the Lee Valley VeloPark, providing state-of-the art cycling facilities. The Eton Manor hockey and tennis facilities, meanwhile, will operate as Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, offering two outdoor hockey pitches, six outdoor and four indoor tennis courts. In 2015, the venue will stage the European Hockey Championships – the first international sporting competition secured for the Park after the Games.
The centrepiece of the Park – the Olympic Stadium – will also host elite international sporting action, including five matches during the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the IAAF and IPC Athletics World Championships in 2017. From 2016, it will also be the home of English Premier League football club West Ham United, who will take residency as the Stadium’s long-term anchor tenant.
The Olympic Park’s Copper Box venue has already reopened for public use, offering courts for 20 different sports including basketball, boxing and badminton as well as a state-of-the-art gym. The venue will not only provide fantastic facilities for the community, it will also be a home for elite sport, with the London Lions basketball team set to play their home matches at the arena.
But the Games have not only provided London and its residents with new sporting facilities, they also led to major infrastructure improvements, with Transport for London investing GBP 6.5 billion in its transport network in preparation for the 2012 Games.
This investment included ten railway lines and 30 new bridges, which will continue to connect London communities after the Games, while at least 60 Games-related projects were initiated to promote greener travel, including a GBP 10 million investment to upgrade pedestrian and cycling routes across London.
The Olympic Village, meanwhile, will also provide a permanent legacy for the whole of London, creating a brand new residential quarter of the city, to be known as “East Village”.
The Athletes’ Village is being transformed into 2,818 new homes – including 1,379 affordable homes – providing essential new housing for more than 6,000 people in east London. New parklands, open space and community facilities will also support the communities that develop in the area following the Games.
“London has set the blueprint for legacy,” explains Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation. “After three years of legacy planning, we are now delivering a Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for everyone that will bring new homes, jobs and opportunities for sport and leisure."