London 2012: Details of Olympic legacy promising a brighter future for Stratford
It has been said that for every stop along the Jubilee Line between Westminster and Stratford, one year is knocked off local life expectancy.
On Wednesday, the Stratford Renaissance Partnership (SRP) - a collection of property investors, Newham Council chiefs, and representatives from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) - gathered at the Stratford Picturehouse to explain to the world’s press how they were going to reverse this appalling story forever.
For seven years, we have heard in phases how the legacy of the Olympic Games will transform east London but, as we look ahead to the end of the Games, the Recorder looks at what will happen to the venues, transport, what will attract visitors back, what scale of housing is planned, and what job opportunities there will be for local people.
Venues and Sport
Lord Sebastian Coe, the chairman of LOCOG promised no ‘white elephants’ left behind in this Olympic Games with the aim to incorporate each venue into the surrounding area.
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The award-winning Velodrome structure will form the heart of the Lee Valley Velopark comprising the Olympic BMX track, a mile-long road circuit, mountain bike trails, cafe, bike hire and cycle workshop to be constructed after the Games.
Eton Manor, currently housing wheelchair tennis and temporary pools, will become the Lee Valley Hockey Centre including two pitches and a 3,000-seater stadium to host the 2015 European Hockey Championships.
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Four indoor and six outdoor acrylic tennis courts will be on offer along with a five-a-side football pitch.
The first part of the park to re-open on July 27 2013, the Multi-Use Arena, a sprung wooden floor hosting handball, Paralympic goalball and fencing, will be refurbished to accommodate a vast array of sports from basketball to taekwondo as well as a gym, cafe, and exercise studios.
The stunning Aquatics Centre will reduce seating from 17,500 to 2,500 by taking off the white wings either side of the wave and two 50m pools, a diving pool, a cafe and creche will remain at �4.33 per adult swim session.
Apart from hosting the 2017 World Athletics Championships, bidding over the future of the Olympic Stadium is still going on but Newham Council have submitted �40 million for a 99-year leasehold of the venue and it is due to reopen in 2014.
June Barnes, chief executive of East Thames who will take over a portion of the housing in the Olympic Park, emphasised their desire to create “a new Stratford, not one divided in two by postcodes, we will create one Stratford.”
One of the integral ways the regeneration plan aims to do this is to build five new neighbourhoods with a target of 35 per cent “affordable housing”.
Developing over the next 20 years, the villages will feature up to 8,000 new homes, three new schools, three health centres, nine nurseries and 25 playgrounds.
They include Chobham Manor in the north-east of the park, Sweetwater in the west, Marshgate Wharf in the south-east, Pudding Mill in the south and East Village in the north-west.
To focus on one neighbourhood - the East Village, currently the Athlete’s Village, will deliver around 2,800 homes ranging from one bedroom apartments to four bedroom houses over 27 hectares of land equivalent to St James’ Park with 30 retail units for local enterprises while Chobham Academy will cater for 1,800 students aged between three and 19.
Speaking on behalf of QDD, a real estate investment company investing in the space with Triathlon Homes, Stuart Corbyn said: “East Village will be a place for everybody to enjoy the best of city living: new homes will be joined by first class education, outstanding sports and leisure facilities, local shops, cafes and restaurants, and unrivalled connections to the rest of the capital.
“This will be one of the most exciting places to live in London.”
The revamp of Stratford Regional Station, the installation of Stratford International Station, and the promise of Crossrail in 2018 means the area will soon become one of the best connected places in Europe.
There are nine public transport lines through Stratford, increasing to ten after the Games, meaning that a train will arrive every 15 seconds.
A number of visitor attractions are planned for Stratford but none quite as ambitious or as imposing as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park encompassing 252 acres of open space, 6.5km of rivers and canals, and 111 acres of biodiverse wildlife habitat.
Costing around �300 million to transform post-Games, the LLDC hope the park will attract nine million visitors per year from 2016,.
Legacy bosses also hope the South Plaza Hub, currently where majority of visitors arrive at adjacent to the Orbit and the Stadium, will be a tourist hospot as a place to relax among tree-lined boulevards, intimate gardens, and a range of cafes and food kiosks.
The Water Polo arena will also be de-constructed to form part of the Stratford Waterfront, a promenade flanked by restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Quite the political hot potato, the cost of the Olympic Park will only be deemed a total success if it provides opportunities for local employment.
Up to 8,000 permanent jobs are promised by 2030 plus 2,500 temporary construction jobs, providing training and apprenticeships for local people.
The International Quarter, located next to the Water Polo Arena, is being delivered by Lend Lease and LCR as 22 acres of Grade A office space, promising in excess of 25,000 jobs.
Matt Beasley, project director at Lend Lease, said: “The impact of the scheme on the local community through education, training and establishment of both constructions and end user jobs will underline the message that there is more to sustainability than just ‘green’ buildings.”
Housing around 20,000 journalists during the Games, the Press and Broadcast Centre is also being prepared as a commercial business district offering 29,000sqm of office space which the LLDC are also currently in the advanced stages of a bidding process to secure.
Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales, who gave an insight into where Newham is today at the SRP meeting, said: “We’re going to need a decade of work, we’re going to build this up and if we are going to keep this going for the next decade, then we will see the benefits for our residents and the expenditure of the Olympics will have been worth it.
“Because true regeneration is not about building new things, it is about people.”