1. ITV Report

So what now for the Olympic Park?

The stadium at Olympic Park. Photo: Press Association

Following the end of the London Paralympics 2012, the Olympic Park in Stratford is set for yet another transformation.

Construction workers will return once again to turn a complex of arenas, pools and buildings, which have become so familiar to so many television viewers across the globe, into the newly-named Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The aquatics centre at Olympic Park. Credit: Press Association

The new-look park is set to re-open to the public in phases from July 27 next year - a year after the opening of the London 2012 Olympics.

The new Park will include:

  • 257 acres of open space
  • 6.5 km of waterways
  • Nine direct rail links
  • Five world-class sports venues
  • 2,000 events hosted annually and five new neighbourhoods

If all goes to plan, the target is for 9.3 million visitors to pass through it annually from 2016.

The plans involve the removal of temporary venues from the Olympic Park after the Paralympics, such as the Basketball Arena. Balfour Beatty will also remove the temporary seating from the Aquatics Centre, leaving 2,500 seats for future use. Major international competitions will be held at the Olympic Stadium even though its new tenants have not yet been confirmed.

The Basketball Arena is to be removed from Olympic Park. Credit: Press Association

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.

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.

The Copper Box. Credit: Press Association

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.

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 multi-use sport, entertainment and community arena, will be the first area to re-open in July next year.

The Orbit inside Olympic Park. Credit: Press Association

The South Plaza, sitting between the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre and the ArcelorMittal Orbit, is set to open at Easter 2014. Visitors will then have access to the whole of the park.

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, cycle-ways 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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