London’s Olympic Park opens to the public
London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has been fully opened to the public for the first time since the conclusion of the London 2012 Olympic Games, following the redevelopment of the south section of the park.
The 560-acre (2.2sq km) park – the largest to open in London for more than 100 years – has been transformed with newly landscaped parklands, waterways and an action-packed adventure playground featuring swings, a rope bridge and activity zones
Other new features in the park include a tree-lined promenade with a unique globe lighting system; mini gardens representing different climatic regions including South Africa, the Americas and the Mediterranean, interactive water fountains; and four themed walking trails.
More than a million visitors have already enjoyed the northern section of the park since it began to reopen in July 2013 with concerts and other major events. The Copper Box Arena was the first former Olympic venue to open to the public and has already had more than 100,000 visitors, while the iconic Aquatics Centre reopened on 1 March 2014 and has already received over 55,000 visitors.
The Lee Valley VeloPark also opened its doors for public use for the first time on 31 March 2014, while the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre will open in June 2014.
Work is currently underway to transform the Olympic Stadium in to a multi-use venue, while a major new arts and cultural centre is also set to be built within the park, in cooperation with University College London and Victoria and Albert Museum. Planning permission has also been granted for up to 10,000 new homes, including more than 2,800 in the former Olympic Village, which has now been renamed East Village.
Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, which led the post-Games transformation of the park, said: “In the 18 months since the end of the Games, we have created a magnificent new park for London with beautiful parklands and waterways and world-class sporting facilities. We want people to come and enjoy this new destination, whether they are reliving the memories of the golden summer of 2012 or experiencing it for the first time.”
“The opening of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is not the end of the transformation story. We are building a new heart of east London creating jobs, building new homes, and bringing in investment, culture and education with partners like the Victoria and Albert Museum and University College London. It is a truly exciting time for all Londoners and we encourage people to come and see Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for themselves.”
Sir John Armitt, Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, which was responsible for the construction of the venues and infrastructure for London 2012, added: “The Olympic Park was a huge hit with spectators in 2012, but now countless thousands more will get a chance to see how it has been transformed for generations to come to use and enjoy – walking, relaxing, seeing the sights, or having a picnic, as well as playing and watching sport in four world-class venues. This, and the work we are doing to complete 2,818 new homes in East Village, is proof that the legacy we all talked so much about is very real.”