13 August 2012 10:09
Following the closing ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games, attention is being turned to what will now happen to the Olympic venues in London.
The Olympic Park is set to reopen to the public in several phases from July 27th next year – a year after the opening of the London 2012 Olympics, renamed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Major international competitions will be held at the Olympic Stadium even though its new tenants have not yet been confirmed. Four bids are in the running to make the showpiece venue their new home after the Games.
Bids from West Ham United, Leyton Orient, Intelligent Transport Services in association with Formula One, and UCFB College of Football Business will be assessed to ensure they are compliant, before being evaluated ahead of negotiations, according to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).
It is set to become the new national home for athletics and to host the IAAF 2017 World Athletics Championships.
The venue has also been earmarked to become a leading centre for technology, design and research which could generate more than 4,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the five-storey press centre will provide around 317,000 sq ft of prime office space with the potential for retail use on the ground floor. A conference centre and a pedestrian square for broadcasting major sporting events, along with cafes, restaurants and bars, are among the plans.
The LLDC claims it has set "tough but achievable" requirements that must be met before any agreement for lease is formally signed.
Estimates suggest 800,000 visitors a year will use the Aquatics Centre when the Park reopens. The two temporary wings will be stripped away to cut the capacity to 2,500 after the Games although it will be possible to increase the venue capacity for major competitions, the LLDC said.
Users will range from community clubs to schools and elite swimmers, and the venue's moveable booms and floors can be shifted to create different depths and pool sizes to fit swimmers of various abilities and experience.
A creche, changing facilities, a cafe and a new public plaza in front of the building are some of the features that will be installed. Greenwich Leisure Limited has been named as the operator.
The Copper Box, where the handball and some modern pentathlon disciplines were held, is to become a multi-use sports centre for the community, athlete training and events. Greenwich Leisure Limited has again been named as operator.
A health and fitness club with changing facilities and a cafe for use by the local community are also planned.
The first homes on the Park are to be ready at the end of 2014.
The North Park, a nature-themed community sector and playground also including the 7,500-capacity multi-use sport, entertainment and community arena, will be the first area to reopen in July next year.
The east London boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest will all have entrances to the North Park and visitors could walk there through Eton Manor.
The rest of the North Park, including the Lee Valley VeloPark and more visitor access points, is set to open at the end of 2013.
The South Plaza, sitting between the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre and the ArcelorMittal Orbit, is set to open at Easter 2014.
At this point visitors will have access to the whole of the Park.
New entrances will open via Westfield shopping centre and Stratford High Street in Newham.
Planners see this area as "tree-lined promenades" which connect spaces that can be used in a variety of ways including for cultural programmes, pop-up street food stalls and community events.
Structures used during the Games, such as temporary venues, bridges, walkways and roads, will be stripped out during the transformation.
The closure is also when the Park will be connected to the surrounding area with new roads, cycleways and footpaths.
Permanent venues, bridges and parklands will be completed ready for everyday use by residents and visitors during this time.