Olympic Park legacy already evident one year out
With just over one year to go until the London 2012 Olympic Games, the long-term benefits that the Olympic Park will bring to the city are already in evidence.
Securing a lasting legacy that extended far beyond the Closing Ceremony was a key part of the London Organising Committee’s plans from the outset and this vision has seen the Games become the catalyst for regenerating 2.5 sq. km of industrial land in the east of the city.
In three years, this area has been transformed into the London 2012 Olympic Park and, with five venues in the Park already completed, LOCOG’s legacy plans are already coming to fruition.
“The Olympic Park is fast becoming a jewel in the crown of east London,” said Paul Deighton, the LOCOG Chief Executive, recently. “It is a fantastic urban park which will be the backdrop to world-class sporting competition in the summer of 2012 and an area which will benefit Londoners for generations to come.
“This former industrial landscape has been completely transformed into a family-friendly environment and a centre for sporting excellence.”
The first venue completed within the Park was the velodrome, which will host track cycling events during the Games. Once the Games have finished, a mountain bike course and road-cycling circuit will be added to create a VeloPark for the local community, sports clubs and elite athletes.
Elsewhere in the Olympic Park, the temporary basketball arena was completed in June, while work has also finished on the handball arena, which will be adapted to become a multi-use sports centre post-Games, providing indoor sporting facilities for the local community.
The International Broadcast Centre has also seen the end of construction and will be converted for office and commercial use after the Games, with the potential to generate thousands of new jobs.
“As we near the end of the construction stage, we remain on schedule and within budget,” said John Armitt, Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority. “A world-class platform has been created for the Games and strong foundations will be left to build a lasting legacy.”
Construction of the park itself has also brought economic benefits to the local area. Over 12,000 people are currently working on-site and it is estimated that 30,000 workers will have worked on the project by its completion. Approximately 7 per cent of these people were unemployed prior to beginning work on the site.
Moreover, the Olympic Park will provide a social legacy after the Games, when it will be transformed into one of the largest urban parks created in Europe for more than 150 years, with around 250 acres of new parklands, creating open space for local residents and new wildlife habitat.
The Athletes’ Village will also be converted into homes, and there will be further housing built within the Olympic Park as well as amenities such as shops, restaurants and cafes.
Additionally, there has been significant investment in improving transport connections for the Olympic Park, including an extension to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), increased capacity on the Jubilee Line and the upgrade of the three gateway stations for the Park – West Ham, Stratford International and Stratford.
By heeding the IOC’s advice that post-Games legacy should be an integral part of planning, London 2012 is ensuring that these Games will be remembered not only as a summer of fantastic sport, but also as the catalyst for the regeneration of one of the most underdeveloped areas of the UK.