Olympic park handed over to development corporation
Stratford's Olympic Park was at the heart of many a sporting milestone this summer and this week, the cornerstone of its legacy was forged with the official transfer of the venue.
The handover of the park, from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to representatives from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), took place on Tuesday.
To mark the occasion, industrial abseiler Vicki Tough removed the final piece of outer shell from the temporary seating stands at the Aquatics Centre - a building which is already undergoing transformation with 17,500 seats removed to make way for glass windows.
A 20-year build timetable is planned for what will be known, in January, as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with plans to transform the area into a public space for people to live, work, enjoy and visit.
During the next 18 months, the LLDC will embark on its £292million construction programme branded Clear, Connect and Complete; aimed at clearing temporary venues, walkways and stands used during the Games, connecting the park to the surrounding area with new transport infrastructure and completing venues and parkland to their legacy designs.
James Bulley, director of venues and infrastructure at LOCOG said to put the mission into context, the scale of the event overlay in London was equivalent to the entirety of the build of the Summer Olympics in Athens, Sydney and Beijing.
"We said we wanted a sustainable games where venues were put to community use and sustainable plans going forward," he said.
He explained that 98 per cent of materials used in the site's construction would be re-used and recycled, including the floor of the basketball arena being donated to the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball team and basketball Scotland, the synthetic hockey field of play being transported for use in a Sheffield park and the sand from the beach volleyball courts reprovisioned to 36 different facilities.
"We began our work straight after the Games to transform the venues, parklands and facilities in the Olympic Park and remove temporary infrastructure as quickly as we could," said James.
"We have provided a platform for the LLDC to continue transforming the park into a park for future generations and to carry on providing a fantastic experience for visitors.
"We wish the LLDC well for its future work."
Colin Naish, executive director of infrastructure at LLDC, said it was important to maintain a balance between getting the park open as quickly as possible, while maintaining a safe and secure environment.
He said: "It is only a couple of months since the Paralympics ended and the transformation of the site is already well under-way.
"Taking control of the park today is another major milestone and in only eight months time the park will begin to reopen."
Paul Brickell, executive director of regeneration and community at LLDC, said the changing hands of the park would both enable the body to "get cracking" on the development of the site, as well as providing opportunities for East Enders in the construction sector.
"We do need to be inspiring a generation about careers in construction," he said.
"The one thing that people living around here are clear about and the thing they want to see out of the legacy is jobs for the local people.
"There are 1,000 jobs for construction on the park and 350 at the moment and we are getting as many local people into those jobs as possible.
"We are delighted to be working with Bam Nuttall and other contractors who share our passion to get local people into those jobs."
Although he added that a "real gap in skills" in the construction industry posed a problem for recruitment, he said he was excited about a new apprenticeship scheme, with targets to reach 12 apprentice workers on-site by the New Year and 30 during the overall transformation.
"I think we can do better than that," he said.
"That will be the foundation for the future.
"We have said it's going to take a generation to build east London, we know it's going to take a time to build.
"Why shouldn't one of the apprentices now be running the company that builds out phase five?"
The park will be accessible to the public in phases from July 27 next year, as each piece of work reaches completion.
The entire park will be open by spring 2014.
Olympic Park: What's the situation?
Side wings will be removed, reducing seating to 2,500.
Re-open to the public in 2014 as a multi-discipline training facility catering from professionals to beginners in two pools.
Remain as an iconic venue.
Will host everything from community sports events to international meetings, including the 2017 World Athletics Championships.
>Copper Box Handball arena
Handed to LLDC last week.
Exterior will remain the same.
Interior transformed to public leisure centre, hosting "concert-type events".
Appointed preferred bidder, iCity.
In the process of constructing a planning application for their work.
>Water Polo venue
Handed over to LLDC a few weeks ago.
Pool will be dismantled to make space for a residential plot.
To be dismantled entirely.
Frame will be taken down in the New Year.
Will form the site for the Chobham Manor residential block.
There is an "aspiration" to get the Orbit open as soon as possible, but LLDC representatives say watch this space.
>Velodrome, BMX Circuit, Mountain bike circuit, Cycle circuit.
To be retained, although tweaked to be less of an "aggressive" course than it was in Games time.
The one-mile cycle circuit will run around its perimeter.
The mountain bike course will be retained as will the velodrome.
All will be handed over to the Lee Valley by the end of 2013.
>South Park Plaza
Work on the area due to start in the New Year.
A contractor will be appointed in the near future.
It will be one of the first areas to open in 2013, providing community space and play areas for kids of all ages.
PAUL Brickell's aspiration for the site.
He said: "People come here [east London] and some stay forever, I am one of them, and some of them move on.
"One of my ambitions for this place is that people in East London, who want to stay here, will find a place here.
"Some find a place they can afford to rent and others, they find a place
to afford to buy.
"Quite a lot of people who come to east London would really like to stay but they can't find a place they can afford to buy.
"This will be a breadth of homes for a breadth of east London's needs."
He added: "All of this is going to encourage people to stay here and keep this as their own."