NLA On Location session hears how London’s Olympics are still bearing fruit, 10 years on, but upgrading Stratford Station is the next regeneration scheme to come.
London has produced the best legacy of any Olympic city, but the job is still only half done, with a major overhaul of Stratford Station and the tricky task of reducing the car dependency of the area on the immediate to-do list.
Those were some of the key messages to emerge from a special NLA On Location event held 10 years on – almost to the day – from the start of the 2012 Olympics at Plexl’s accommodation in Here East.
The main claim over the major effect the events had on the area came from Hackney mayor Philip Glanville, who said we could be proud that the legacy is the best of any city in the world, and that London’s transformation of its east had put Olympics held in other cities well into the shade.
‘I’m really confident that there’s a strong vision for an inclusive economy’, he said. ‘If we compare it to Athens of Beijing or other places, none of that is happening. All the infrastructure is either rotting or falling away, and it’s certainly not used by the citizens of those cities in the way that Londoners use those institutions'.
Glanville said the emotional response of discussion around legacy often got lost, and praised his predecessor Jules Pipe in his mission to enable the Media Centre to have a new business life as Here East rather than yet more housing. ‘This was never just about just about a summer of sport – it was about a lasting legacy for east London’.
More still had tro be done, however. Glanville said that he hoped TfL would not become a ‘political football’ and that, rather than use resources chasing transport infrastructure like the Chelsea-Hackney line, his priority was in making Stratford Station a better and safer place to be, transforming it into a ‘gateway to Newham and east London’, perhaps with stopping international trains. ‘That is my number one priority’.
During the pandemic, said Shadi Shekarrizi of AECOM, Stratford had been the busiest railway station, underground station and hub in London, but it was due an overhaul. ‘Over the last 10 years it has essentially become a victim of its own success, and now requires an updated and modern vision to carry out the growth trajectory in the area’. AECOM’s Christian Bode added that attention would also be paid to calming and ‘downgrading’ the road network ‘to support more walking and wheeling’. Stratford could look to places like Melbourne and Cardiff to see examples of reworking railway station surroundings – Stratford is ‘world-class’ but needs to be made more inclusive and for designers to create more of a place.
Other speakers included Deloitte’s Jeremy Castle, who talked about UCL’s campus and future plans for 1.3million sq ft of extra academic space and student accommodation providing a ‘fantastic addition to London.’ Rosanna Lawes of the LLDC, too, emphasised that a lot of work needed to be done on transport infrastructure and at Stratford Station, and showed the considerable number of assets that have emerged since the Games, including the emerging V&A East. But the Broadcasting Centre’s transformation into Here East had also been a key component. ‘Without a doubt, Here East has exceeded all our expectations as a thriving centre for innovation, academia and business development’, she said.
Over 25,000 jobs have been created in the area since the Olympics in 2012, Lawes added, with the pathways to access those jobs being equally important. ‘This place was once the industrial heartland of this economy, and over the next 10 years we need to make sure we re-establish East London as the centre for inclusive growth and innovation’.