Olympic Park to reopen to public next year
The Olympic Stadium before the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Games.
London’s Olympic Park is set to reopen to the public from July 27 next year - a year after the opening of the London 2012 Olympics.
The newly named and new-look Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will open in phases.
The venue is being billed as a visitor destination and community park unlike any other in the UK, with some of the venues which have been graced by the world's top sport stars at London 2012.
Transformation of the 560-acre site in Stratford, east London, is set to take 18 months from October.
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 been earmarked to become a leading centre for technology, design and research which could generate more than 4,000 jobs.
Up to 20,000 journalists used the venue during the Games. Afterwards, the Broadcast Centre will offer 95,000 sq ft of office space over five floors and 575,000 sq ft of commercial space over two floors.
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.
The aim is for it to be a digital hub which could use local east London talent but also with a community focus after the Games. A conference centre and a pedestrian square for broadcasting major sporting events, along with cafés, 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. It will be possible to increase the venue capacity for major competitions, the LLDC said.
It had a 17,500-capacity for the Games, under a 160m x 80m wave-like roof which has a longer single span than Heathrow Terminal 5.
It features a 50m competition pool, a 25m competition diving pool, a 50m warm-up pool and a 'dry' warm-up area for divers.
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 crèche, changing facilities, a café 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.
Its flexible design and retractable seating mean it will be suitable for activities ranging from international competition to community sports. Legacy chiefs hope indoor sports such as basketball, handball, badminton, boxing, martial arts, netball, table tennis, wheelchair rugby and volleyball could be played there.
A health and fitness club with changing facilities and a café for use by the local community are also planned.
Temporary areas used for the media and technology equipment during the Games will be converted to provide extra spectator facilities. The athletes' changing rooms will be turned into changing areas.
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 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 connecting 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. During the closure is also when the Park will be connected to the surrounding area with new roads, cycleways and foot paths. Permanent venues, bridges and parklands will be completed ready for everyday use by residents and visitors during this time.
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