Nicole Scherzinger performs at Westfield Stratford City opening
Three years in the making, Europe’s largest urban shopping centre, Westfield Stratford City, opened its doors to the public today.
The �1.45bn, 1.9 million sq ft shoppers’ paradise features 300 stores and 70 restaurants, a food market, 17-screen Vue cinema, three hotels, a bowling alley, entertainment and the UK’s largest casino, scheduled to open later this year.
By 8am - two hours before most shops opened - people were lining up to enter the shopping centre.Stars of TV, sport and entertainment are providing the glamour for launch events throughout the day.
Colegrave Primary School pupils were cutting the ribbon to the flagship John Lewis store.
London Mayor Boris Johnson followed by leading the site’s opening ceremony.
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Pop superstar Nicole Scherzinger provided the X Factor to proceedings with a performance of five tracks.
A host of other celebrities in attendance include Kelly Brook, who will be bringing extra glamour to fashion store, New Look.
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Hammers’ boss Sam Allardyce and some of his star players are helping to kick off West Ham’s official club shop.
Sporting heroes Colin Jackson, Tyler Saunders, Darren Sinclair and Twinelle Hopeson are bringing some London 2012 spirit to Lloyds TSB.
Model Pixie Geldof and Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw are hosting events.
Jamie Oliver’s first London-based Ministry of Food will be offering cooking lessons, demonstrations and culinary advice in Jamie’s Italian restaurant.
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “When we granted outline planning permission for Westfield Stratford City in 2005, we knew it would benefit the borough.
“Westfield represents more than just bricks, mortar and fabulous shops and restaurants, it has been instrumental in helping us to transform the lives of our residents by providing them with employment and jobs that they can turn into fulfilling and rewarding careers.
“Shoppers, tourists and visitors will also bring further economic benefits to Newham and will leave a lasting legacy long after the Olympics has rolled out of town.”
Transport for London advised shoppers travelling to the centre today to take advantage of improved transport links to the area.
Millions of pounds have been invested in new and upgraded stations and transport links to Stratford in time for the launch.
London’s transport commissioner Peter Hendy said: “With our partners, we’ve invested to ensure all transport improvements are complete ahead of the opening of Westfield Stratford City and well ahead of the London 2012 Games.
“This part of east London is now one of the best connected in the country and Londoners are already benefiting from this early legacy.
“We have transport and traffic plans in place to manage the increase in people travelling to Westfield. However, these plans are very different to those we will put in place during the Games, when 100% of spectators will travel by public transport, walking or cycling.”
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) said it will be operating security checks on vehicles entering the public car park at the new Westfield shopping centre until the end of the Games in September 2012.
Paul Deighton, LOCOG CEO, said: “Delivering a safe and secure Games is a key priority for everyone involved in London 2012.
“With Westfield so close to the Olympic Park and with vehicle access to it directly accessed from the Park, it is an obvious and important part of our security plans.
“We will make the checks as quick and unobtrusive as possible - we are confident that shoppers will recognise the need for us to be vigilant and carry out these checks.”
Westfield in numbers:
25,000 construction jobs created during build, with 10 per cent from Newham
5,000 car parking spaces
4m potential customers within 45 minutes
10m people visiting the Olympics
40,000 tons of steel used - the equivalent of 80m gold medals
350,000 cubic metres of concrete used to lay the foundations
3m sq ft flooring - the equivalent of 40 Wembley football pitches
7 miles of shop windows
9 million construction man hours
58 Underground and Overground trains an hour