Brings Big Changes to E. London
July 05, 2012
The 2012 Olympic Park is in East London, a poor area that was largely
ignored until the city won the right to host the games seven years ago.
Since then it has been transformed. But some people question whether the
changes were as positive as officials claim, and how the area will fare
after the Games are over.
Rebuilding East London was part of the 2012 Olympics plan from the very
beginning, with an environmental cleanup, new housing, stores and parks,
as well as the sports facilities. The goal was to make this a
prosperous, integral part of London in a way it had never been.
So Olympics organizers created Olympic Park Legacy Company to plan for
the future from the very beginning. The company promises park land,
access to first class sports facilities, thousands of jobs and a more
vibrant local economy.
"This park has been invested in," said Peter Tudor, one of the senior
officials behind Olympic Park Legacy Company. "It used to be almost
wasteland. There were some factories here. There were some disused
areas. There was a lot of junk that had been dumped here. But now it's a
beautiful park and it becomes a new park for the city."
Most of what is now the Olympic Park was either abandoned or occupied by
factories and businesses. One of them was the Forman and Sons fish
smoking business, run by Lance Forman, who decided to build his new
factory, along with a restaurant, art gallery and party venue, just a
few hundred meters from the old one, in the shadow of the new Olympic
"People come here now, people who lived in London all their lives, and
they come to events or to our restaurant and they look out of the window
and they say 'Oh my God, I didn't realize this part of London existed.'
Well I think that when the Olympics happens, you're going to have half a
million people here on our doorstep every day. They will love it and
they will want to come back," said Forman.
But some local residents are not happy with the redevelopment that the
Olympics brought, including Julian Cheyne, whose apartment building was
torn down to make way for the Park.
not saying there hasn't been a transformation," Cheyne explained. "The
question is whether it's a desirable transformation in what they've done
now, or whether it was so bad in first place. The kind of language which
is used, 'urban desert' and a 'scar,' is simply not true."
Cheyne believes the Olympic facilities will not benefit the people who
live nearby and says redevelopment was beginning to happen anyway.
Much of the impact of the Olympics in East London will not be known for
years, maybe decades. But Peter Tudor of Olympic Park Legacy Company is
eager to get started.
"We've been planning for this for a long time and we can't wait to get
our hands on the park and get to work," Tudor said. "We can make a
difference with these venues. Come back in a few years' time and we'll
show you how we've done it."
With a string of broken promises in some past Olympic cities, many
people will be doing just that.