London 2012 Olympics have represented a sizeable investment of public funds around the valley of the Lea, as small tributary of the Thames on its north bank, north of the Docklands. What will happen now that the games are over?
As the large international events have grown in complexity and investment amounts, so have grown the demands to conceive their design and operations as to ensure the most socially and economically adequate way to give a good use to the infrastructure and other elements built for the occasion after the event. In the first times the issue was the destination of the housing units built in the Olympic villages, later it was transportation, and the array of issues has since widened.
Since the 1990s the screening of the candidacies to Olimpic city has given an increasing importance to the issue of legacy, partially to counter the criticism against the cost of previous events.
In London the legacy proposal has been organized around:
– A redefinition of the area around six new neighborhoods, to be finished by 2040.
– Housing: housing units are 65% of the building on the Olympic Park, with a prevision to build up to 12.000 units, including 35% affordable housing and 42% with 3 or more bedrooms, with surfaces allowing long term flexibility.
– Parks: the new park system, already configured in its esencial points for the Games, covers 102 hectares. A part corresponds to contaminated soils due to past industrial activities, that have been cleaned up for the games. The potential of the canals for leisure and transport will be developed.
– Employment: the Olympic Park area has a fragile socioeconomic structure. The aim is to double the previous jobs number on site.
– Sports venues: five of the large venues will remain, with a partial reduction in size to adapt maintenance costs to predicted use
– Public facilities: three new primary schools and two secondary schools are planned, along with a sports academy on the Olympic Stadium. Each neighborhood will have a community space.
– There are plans to build new bridges, 14 km of new roads and 35 km of pedestrian and bike lanes.
– Transport: use of the improvements in the railroad and underground, already in service for the games, planned under the principle of minimization of the use of private cars.
Under the current economic crisis, the delivery of these targets will surely bring lessons for future events.
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