Baroness Ford: Vision of a Lasting Olympic Legacy
February 19, 2010
Chairman, Olympic Park Legacy Company
Up to 180,000 spectators a day are expected to visit the Olympic Park to enjoy the spectacle of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Afterwards, the landmark site is set to be transformed into a new vibrant part of east London, creating new communities where people will want to live, work and visit for generations to come, all set within one of Europe’s largest urban parks.
The Olympic Park Legacy Company is charged with the responsibility for making this happen.
The company was formed in May last year by the Government and the Mayor of London and we moved into our new offices in the heart of Stratford in October.
Watching the site being built on our doorstep is truly inspiring. After the Games, London will inherit a set of assets which include five sporting venues, a media centre, some 2800 homes and a 250 acre park. The site itself will offer some of the very best residential and commercial development opportunities in London, adjacent to the superb national and international rail hub of Stratford International Station and the Westfield Shopping Centre – one of the largest retail centres in Europe.
Having so much land in public ownership, within 20 minutes of central London represents an excellent opportunity. One of the great benefits of London hosting the Games is the assembly of land to create the Olympic site. It should not be under estimated how powerful this is to effect urban change on this scale.
The challenge for the OPLC is to build a lasting legacy from the 2012 Games by developing the Park to become, in time, a new prosperous metropolitan area of the city.
We want to create a place for unique cultural and leisure events and attractions, centred around impressive urban parklands and waterways.
It will have a diverse and dynamic community which is connected to its neighbours and which acts as a catalyst for the economic regeneration of the Lower Lee Valley and East London.
And for visitors, the site will be a “must see, must return” destination which celebrates its Olympic memory in its world class sporting venues which are shared by elite athletes, local people and visitors alike.
This, of course, cannot all be in place immediately after the Games. Developing this new part of London will take time and our plans reach out on a 25 years horizon.
The pace of activity is already intense and we are working closely with partners in the Olympic Delivery Authority on plans to transform the Park after the Games. We have also agreed our delivery programme for subsequent years in four distinct phases.
Firstly, between now and 2011 we will focus on planning and preparation work, including detailed plans for the venues, the site infrastructure and the management and maintenance of the park after the Games. We will start to market the site to investors and developers and prepare our events programme for the Park for both prior to and immediately after the Games in 2012.
Between 2011 and 2012, we will procure and appoint our main partners, service providers and operators.
Our third phase covers the reinstatement period between the Games finishing and summer 2013.
This phase will involve working with the Olympic Delivery Authority on the transformation of venues and infrastructure and scheduling the opening of the Park for some early events and community use.
Then, between 2013 and 2018, the fourth phase represents the first five years in the delivery of our plan. During this time we will see the development of neighbourhoods within the former Olympic Village and work started on other new housing developments and commercial businesses.
This period will also include an active and exciting events programme which will bring to life the venues and parklands with a variety of community and elite sporting and cultural activities.
Our plans will evolve as we shape the Park’s landscape working alongside the five host boroughs – Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Greenwich and Hackney.
The OPLC will be responsible for the main Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics Centre and the Arena 3 – a 6,000 seat multi-use venue – after the Games.
The other two permanent venues, the Velopark and BMX Track and Eton Manor to the north of the Olympic Park will be the responsibility of our partners Lee Valley Regional Park Authority which owns those sites.
The sporting legacy of the Park will be at the core of both of our plans to fulfil the legacy obligations for community and elite sports participation.
Both organisations will work together to create what will become one of London’s great new urban parks.
The International Broadcast Centre and the Main Press Centre buildings which will be home for some 20,000 journalists during the Games, will provide some of the most exciting commercial opportunities on the Park.
Making the Park site an attractive place for people to live, is key to our plans and in our plans we are making sure that there are significant numbers of good quality family housing – many of which will be aff ordable f or rent or ownership. The Olympic Village, where athletes and officials will stay during the Games, will also be converted into homes, many available for key workers such as teachers and nurses.
They will sit within all the elements which make up good communities: schools, libraries, shops, cafes, restaurants, green space and a wide range of community facilities to be developed alongside major cultural and visitor attractions.
Already many of the transport improvements serving the Park are underway, including an extension to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), increased capacity on the Jubilee Line and the upgrade of Stratford Regional Station.
Thirty new permanent bridges will allow people living around the site to travel through it for the first time, making connections from Hackney to Stratford that had previously involved avoiding the site altogether.
Surrounding the park, people will enjoy wider access to the parkland and open spaces via a network of canal towpaths, footpaths and cycleways.
There are moments in time when great change and transformation are possible. Everything is right for a new centre in London, the political will, the capital and the courage to shape the city for generations.
London is the first host city to have a dedicated legacy company such as ourselves and we are getting all the pieces in place to give us the best possible foundation for this unique opportunity.
Our senior management team is being appointed to work alongside our Chief Executive Andrew Altman, and our board began work in November with combined skills ranging from property development and regeneration to international businesses and marketing.
There are a great many opportunities for us all to work together – not just to get it done, but to get it done right.