Friday, 15 July 2011

Olympic park

I had my first visit to the new Olympic Park this week. Here is a small part of it. It's being touted as the biggest new park in London, since the Victorians started building green lungs for the poor of the city, and allows LOCOG, to tick off quite a few green boxes. For example, gullies planted with wildflowers and designed to funnel rainwater run-off. Reed bed filtration systems, new wetland habitats, (I predict some very happy East London frogs); a couple of thousand new native trees planted (some of them not looking so healthy); and here's a close up of some of the gorgeous bee, butterfly and insect friendly flowers that are being incorporated into meadow planting designed by Nigel Dunnett and James Hitchmough from Sheffield University with Sarah Price.
They have used sustainable wood for the benches, recycled aggregate and vegetable-oil based adhesive for the paths. There has been lots of cleaning up of the Lea River, cleansing of contaminated soil and lots of earth moving to sculpt some impressive new hills in a very flat landscape. In 12 months time, it will look very impressive and it will fit in neatly with Olympics legacy policy.
But as with all great spectacles, there is a darker side: a thriving allotment site was bulldozed to make way for the park;(apparently the plots will be allowed to 'return' after the funfair). This is being completely glossed over because of the bountiful 'greenness' of the park. And then, after all the millions spent before the Olympics, the care of the park will fall back into the hands of the local authority. I don't know if anyone has noticed, but parks and green space maintenance is right at the bottom of list of priorities for most councils in these austere times. Is it going to go the way of the Green Bridge and Millennium Park at Mile End?  I hope not.
But sport is what it's supposed to be all about. And on that note, I will say that the Velodrome or Pringle building, is really rather gorgeous.  Posted by Picasa


  1. It would be nice to think that at least part of the park would be given back to the allotmenteers afterwards and perhaps local volunteers might help with maintaining the park? But you're right about the cutbacks: libraries and parks get cutbacks before the council staff salaries...

  2. Hi Caro, I'll be keeping a close eye on the post-Olympics plan... but despite my cynical view, the park will definitely be worth a visit once it's open to the public.