From shopping malls to white water rafting facilities, the legacy that London 2012 leaves behind is sure to benefit millions of local Londoners and tourists alike. Here are some of the best.
QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK, STRATFORD, LONDON
Following the grand finale of the summer’s sporting events, construction workers will return once again to turn this complex of attention-grabbing and award-winning arenas and sporting venues into the newly-named Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The renaming of the park in 2013 aims to reflect a tangible legacy from the 2012 Games and echoes plans for making the Park one of Europe’s premier visitor destinations and a new thriving community with family homes, jobs, and sport and leisure activities at its heart.
Moreover, the new park has created some 8,500 jobs for residents of London boroughs hosting the Games and already 600 people are working on the London Organizing Committee of the Olympics and Paralympic Games.
The Olympic site has seen the largest planting project ever undertaken in the UK creating the largest new park in London for over a century with 300,000 wetland plants, oak, ash, hazel, holly, willow, blackthorn and hawthorn being added. The canals and waterways of the River Lea have also been cleaned.
AQUATICS CENTRE, OLYMPIC PARK, STRATFORD, LONDON
The Aquatics Centre has a capacity of 17,500 and, at 160m by 80m, it has a longer single span than Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The venue features a 50m competition pool, a 25m competition diving pool, a 50m warm-up pool and a ‘dry’ warm-up area for divers.
After the Olympics, the Aquatics Centre will be transformed into a facility for the local community, clubs and schools as well as elite swimmers. The venue will be operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited. The two temporary wings will be removed but there will be possibility to increase venue capacity during major competitions. A crèche, family-friendly changing facilities, café and a new public plaza will also be built for the community’s benefit.
HADLEIGH FARM AND COUNTRY PARK, ESSEX
In partnership with the Salvation Army, Essex County Council is currently seeking planning permission to provide new and improved recreational trails and visitor facilities on land at Hadleigh Farm and Hadleigh Country Park. At the heart of the proposals are plans to improve and enhance the network of existing paths and trails across Hadleigh Country Park and Hadleigh Farm, improving access for walkers, cyclists, mountain biking, runners and horse riders.
The trail network will include the adapted Olympic Mountain Bike course. This will be connected to the Country Park and the wider area by a network of multi-user trails for walkers and cyclists. New walking trails with interpretation panels, enhanced horse riding trails and cross-country running trails, within the Country Park will also be provided.
BMX TRACK, OLYMPIC PARK, STRATFORD, LONDON
Located right next to the Velodrome in the north of the Olympic Park, the BMX Track covers an area of 160m by 90m making it slightly larger than a football pitch. The track starts on an 8-metre-high ramp, followed by jumps, bumps and tightly banked corners.
After the Games, the temporary seating will be removed and the BMX Track will be reconfigured to make it suitable for riders of all ages and abilities. The BMX Track and Velodrome will be linked by a new road cycle circuit and mountain bike course to create the Lee Valley VeloPark, combining cycling facilities across all disciplines in one cycling ‘hub’.
LEE VALLEY HOCKEY CENTRE, STRATFORD, LONDON
The Lee Valley Hockey Centre has 3,000 permanent seats and the ability to expand to hold up to 15,000 spectators in total. The Centre will make use of the two world class hockey pitches from the London 2012 Games and move them to a site at Eton Manor at the top of the Olympic Park.
Lee Valley Hockey Centre will host the 2015 European Hockey Championships - the first major sporting event to take place at the Olympic Park after the 2012 Games. Expect plenty of action and activity throughout the season though as local London hockey clubs plan to make the most out of the Lee Valley Hockey Centre for trainings and weekend matches.
A major part of the centre's vision is to offer easy access to this fast growing sport for all. School and community groups, individuals, all abilities, all ages - Lee Valley Hockey Centre will be open to everyone.
LEE VALLEY VELOPARK, STRATFORD, LONDON
Arguably set to be the best cycling centre in the world, Lee Valley VeloPark will become one of the lasting legacies of London 2012, run by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. The combination of four cycling disciplines in one venue – particularly with BMX included – creates a unique asset for London.
The breathtaking Velodrome is the centrepiece for London 2012’s track cycling events. Cafes, cycle hire and workshop facilities will also be in the mix. So whether you’re a world class cyclist, an amateur enthusiast, a community group or someone who likes to potter around getting some gentle exercise, Lee Valley VeloPark will have something for you!
EMIRATES AIR LINE, GREENWICH, LONDON
Opened in June 2012, the Emirates Air Line carries up to 2,500 people an hour across the Thames in each direction, a number which would otherwise take 30 buses an hour to achieve. Built with the Olympic influx of visitors in mind, the cable car links local communities, improve access to visitor destination either side of the river and speed up river crossings even after the London 2012 buzz dies down.
Connecting the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks in less than five minutes, with cabins travelling every 30 seconds, the Emirates Air Line makes east London more accessible than ever before.
COPPER BOX, OLYMPIC PARK, STRATFORD, LONDON
The Copper Box hosted some of the most exciting indoor sports competitions during the London 2012 Olympics including boxing, handball and badminton. Built with sustainability as the main priority, the Copper Box features state of the art innovations including a roof fitted with 88 light pipes that allow natural light into the venue, reducing the demand for electric lights by 40% annually.
After the Games, the Copper Box will become a multi-functional sports centre for community use, athlete training and events, Limited. Its flexible design and retractable seating will make it suitable for activities ranging from international competition to community sports, and for a wide range of indoor sports, including basketball, handball, badminton, boxing, martial arts, netball, table tennis, wheelchair rugby and volleyball. A health and fitness club with changing facilities and café are also planned.
WESTFIELD STRADFORD CITY, STRATFORD, LONDON
As the gateway to London's Olympic Park, Westfield Stratford City is part of one of the largest urban regeneration projects ever undertaken in England. More than 70 per cent of spectators passed through Westfield Stratford City en route to the Olympic Park Games venues.
Located just 20 minutes from central London's tourism attractions, and at the heart of the Olympic site, Westfield Stratford City is perfectly placed to maximize this expanding tourism opportunity and provide a much needed new commercial, shopping and entertainment district for the area. Westfield Stratford City neighbours the Park and will be a core component of the lasting benefits delivered for East London for decades after the end of the London 2012 Games.
Stratford is set to develop into one of London's top visitor and leisure destinations. From an economic point of view, the 1.4bn shopping centre has also created some 9,000 job opportunities and further contributed to the popularity of the area for homeowners.
OLYMPIC STADIUM, OLYMPIC PARK, STRATFORD, LONDON
The Stadium is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate a number of different requirements and capacities in legacy. While the future function of the venue is still to be confirmed, it is sure to retain its place in the hearts of millions of Brits that fell in love with its dazzling light effects, epic firework displays and groundbreaking opening, closing and medal ceremonies. Watch this space.
WEYMOUTH BAY & PORTLAND HARBOUR, WEYMOUTH, DORSET
Dorset’s Weymouth and Portland provides some of the best natural sailing waters in England, with facilities on land to match. 2012 improvements to the already world-class facilities at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) include a new permanent 250m slipway used for launching and landing boats and 70 new moorings.
A new commercial 560-berth marina has also been built nearby. Also, soaring high above the Weymouth resort - the new Weymouth SeaLife Tower provides up to 69 passengers at a time with stunning panoramic views of the Jurassic coastline and out over Weymouth Bay, Chesil Beach and Portland. Turning through a full 360 degrees and climbing to over 170 feet above sea level this is an experience not to be missed.
ARCELORMITTAL ORBIT, OLYMPIC PARK, LONDON
Designed as collaboration between Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond and supported by ArcelorMital and the Mayor of London, the ArcelorMital Orbit is the artistic structure commemorating the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This monumental £22.7 million structure will be used as a visitor attraction after the Games and is aimed to bring an influx of tourism to the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
LEE VALLEY WHITE WATER CENTRE, WALTHAM CROSS, HERTFORDSHIRE
The two courses and the facilities building at Lee Valley White Water Centre will remain, with the venue continuing to provide a world-class canoeing and kayaking facility for people of all levels of ability, and a major leisure attraction for white water rafting.
After the London 2012 Games, the venue will be owned, funded and managed by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. It will also offer an extensive sports development programme, run in partnership with the British Canoe Union. The 2015 Canoe Slalom World Championships will be held at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
SOUND INVESTMENT FOR ALL BRITONS
Along with rejuvenating London’s most deprived areas in East London, creating over 100,000 paid jobs and leaving behind iconic communal areas and venues, the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics have led to colossal investment in elite sport. With the help of public investment, the government has protected funding for elite sports until 2015 to ensure Team GB continue to excel at the Rio 2016 Games.
Furthermore, the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics leave a legacy of sporting and event venues for the entire country to make use of. While the main Olympic Stadium is located in east London, many Britons will have new or improved sporting facilities within reach.
For sport-inspired weekend breaks and Travel tips, visit http://www.visitengland.com/ee/Places-to-visit/Short-break-itineraries
Images courtesy of London 2012 and VisitEngland