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An evolving space

Source: Public Sector Executive May/June 12

Peter Tudor, director of venues at the London Legacy Development Corporation, discusses the plans to transform the Olympic Park following the Games.

Every venue and piece of infrastructure constructed for the Olympic Park will be recycled, modified and re-used, through the planning and management of the London Legacy Development Corporation. This will maximise benefit for both residents and visitors and ensure the best use is made of resources.

As the corporation publishes its plans for the reopening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – as it will be known following the Games, to mark the Diamond Jubilee – PSE spoke to Peter Tudor, director of venues, about the need for speed and how the park will be completely transformed.

The transformation is following three key stages – ‘clear’, ‘connect’ and ‘complete’ – to make the park accessible, and fit for use in legacy.

“There is an enormous amount of work to do,” Tudor acknowledged, and explained that the way permanent venues are designed for the Games does not necessarily lend itself to legacy use.

Deconstruct and reuse

Firstly, temporary venues, spectator stands and infrastructure needed for the Games but not for legacy will be removed. Although these venues were always designed to be temporary, “that doesn’t make taking them away any easier,” he said, with some buildings already complete for at least a year.

Tudor said: “We’re not demolishing anything; we’re deconstructing it so that we can return it to the people who own it and they can take it off for other events around the world.”

The LLDC has been involved in the planning of the Olympics for many years, so decisions about what capacity is needed to be retained for legacy could be made in advance, allowing transformation to be designed appropriately. Recognising the elements which could be removed ensured that the park will be sustainable for the future.

“All of our venues are going to be used afterwards, and we don’t end up with anything we don’t need. The great thing about legacy is that these are fantastic facilities that people may have won medals in, but residents can come and play and exercise in for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Phased action

Speed is also an important consideration, especially for residents without tickets to the Games. Instead of waiting to reopen the whole park in “one fell swoop”, the corporation decided to use a phased approach, to allow people back into the park as soon as possible.

Exactly one year from the opening ceremony this July, the North Park will open and the phased approach will continue in a steady stream, rather than a patchwork of areas, meaning the park will be accessible throughout its transformation.

While many of the attractions will draw both national and international tourists, the transformation of the park is primarily for the local people living in the four host boroughs around it.

Tudor stated: “We’re doing our best to make sure it’s as affordable as possible and that as many people can use it.”

The introduction, or reinstallation of networks within the park – roads, bridges, cycle paths and footways – is covered by the work to ‘connect’ throughout the site.

“It’s a very accessible park”, Tudor said. “Probably the most accessible Games park there has ever been. The routes for disabled people are very easy, there’s been a lot of attention paid to the landscaping and the gradients to make sure that everyone can come and enjoy it.”

Park potential

‘Completion’ is the conversion of permanent venues for use beyond the Games and includes removing additional seating, and modifying the buildings as well as re-arranging the way the park is laid out.

Although this will be finished and the whole park will be reopened by the end of 2014, the work does not stop there. Tudor explained that the park was “an evolving space”, with different uses for the areas at different times.

“That’s going to be one of the things that’s exciting about it; it doesn’t sit still,” he said.

The LLDC aims to bring up to 8,000 homes to the park, and this forms one of the future uses of changing spaces. Tudor described the aim as being “bringing new people to the area.”

He said: “It’s not just somewhere to come and play and swim and see a show, it’s also about somewhere to live too.”

With transformation plans in place and operators being appointed to venues on the park, Tudor confirmed that the LLDC was on track to achieve the commitments originally proposed in legacy.

He said: “We’re charging ahead really. In a funny sort of way, we’re just itching to get going! We have to make sure the Games happen first, but there will be no stopping us when they are over.”

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