The legacy of London 2012
Measuring the success of the Games
The 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are now a fading memory but their legacy has only just begun. Before the Games there was doubt that the cost - £9.3 billion - could be justified for a few weeks of sport. The widely acclaimed success of the Games has already caused many people to change their minds, however, their real success will be judged on the lasting impact they have on East London.
Regeneration of the East End was the promise that helped to bring the 2012 Games to London. It was a big promise, especially given that East London is home to some of the most deprived communities in the UK. The commitment to wide-ranging social, economic and environmental goals, if delivered, would be world-leading not just for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but for any city regeneration project.
The legacy timeline
The Olympic legacy will be a marathon rather than a sprint. It is likely to be two years before the whole Olympic Park reopens and twenty years before all the work is complete.
9 September 2012 - end of the Games.
1 January 2013 - Olympic Park officially becomes Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Spring 2013 - first inhabitants move into East Village (Athletes Village).
July 2013 - North Hub and Multi-Use Sports Arena (Copper Box) open.
Summer 2013 - work begins on Chobham Manor, a new neighbourhood in the Park.
End of 2013 - North Park, including Velopark and Eton Manor fully open.
Spring 2014 - South Plaza, Aquatic Centre and Orbit open.
Summer 2014 - stadium opens and possibly hosts first Premier League match.
2015-16 - first full year of events and activities at the Park with 9 million visitors expected.
2017 - Crossrail opens, a new east-west rail route across London, through Stratford. World Athletics Championships at the stadium.
Until 2030 - five new neighbourhoods to be built, including 8,000 new homes.
Venues in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
It will take two years for the Park to fully open because many of the venues used for 2012 will be transformed in legacy. These are the plans for some of the main venues.
Athletes Village - will become East Village, a new neighbourhood with 2,800 homes, 50% of which will be affordable housing.
Velodrome - will be part of the new Lee Valley Velopark with BMX track, mountain bike trail and one-mile road circuit.
The Orbit - will be the focal point of South Plaza, a new landscaped urban park that will become a tourist attraction.
Copper Box - will become the Multi-Sports Arena, a large arena for a variety of indoor sports.
Aquatics Centre - will re-open as a world-class venue for elite swimmers and the local community. Seating will be reduced from 17,500 to 2,500.
The Stadium - will be retained to host major sporting events including the World Athletics Championships in 2017. West Ham United hopes to move there in 2014.
Media Centre - will become a commercial business district employing up to 8,000, with the focus on information technology.
The Olympic Park - becomes Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with over 100 hectares of open space, the largest new park in London for 150 years.
Around the Park
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and area around it will be run by the London Legacy Development Corporation. Their aim, working with four London boroughs - Newham, Hackney, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets - is to fulfil the Olympic legacy promises, to integrate the Olympic Park with surrounding neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood is distinctive and likely to be developed in different ways.
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Stratford - a major transport hub with an old town centre in the shadow of the new Westfield shopping centre.
Carpenters Estate - a Newham Council estate, controversially proposed for demolition to become a new University College London campus.
Sugar House Lane - an old industrial site now being redeveloped as a new residential community by Landprop, a subsidiary of IKEA.
Hackney Wick/Fish Island - a mixed area of old factories and cheap accommodation slowly being gentrified. It has the largest concentration of artists in London.
East London - the bigger picture
An oft-quoted fact about the extent of deprivation in East London is that, for each stop eastwards along the Jubilee Line from central London, average life expectancy drops by one year. The aspiration of the Olympic legacy is to eradicate this disparity.
This aim, sometimes described as 'convergence', is to bring living standards in East London up to the average living standard in London by 2030.
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is an opportunity to establish a new fulcrum for growth in the east of London, moving London's centre of gravity east. Of itself, the Park will not guarantee equal life chances, but it is an essential step towards shifting the city's geographical inequalities.
Questions for students
- Was Stratford a good place to choose for the 2012 Olympics?
- Will the Olympics make the Lower Lea Valley more sustainable?
- Should West Ham United move to the Olympic stadium?
- How could East London be promoted as a top tourist destination?
- What effect have the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics had on sports participation?
- What impact will the Olympics have on quality of life in East London?
- How should the Olympic Park be planned to benefit everyone?
- How will Olympic regeneration compare with Docklands?
Visiting East London
If you'd like to arrange a guided visit to East London contact local experts Urban Geography East London or Field Studies Council (FSC) London who lead a variety of one-day fieldwork programmes for KS3 to A-level.
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