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When they think it s all over

Cover Story - Legacy use is a key aspect of the bid.

Bidding for the Olympics has focused attention on sporting facilities and their surrounding environment. But the 2012 bid must also have a strong emphasis on the legacy use of the Olympic Park site if it is to impress the International Olympic Committee judges.

'As far as possible all the work that was being done was very closely related to the Olympics.

But we also kept a very careful eye on legacy and remediation, ' says Capita Symonds associate director Peter Hine. Capita Symonds produced the environmental impact statement to support the planning application for the Olympic Park.

Hine's view is reinforced in the design statement produced for the Olympic Park by masterplanner EDAW.

'The Olympic strategy sits within the context of the regeneration strategy for the valley as a whole, ' it says.

This plan concentrates heavily on the long term regeneration of the Lower Lea valley and its transformation from a post industrial wasteland to a massive 100km 2urban park.

The park will stretch from the Thames through the Olympic site to Hertfordshire, following the course of the Lea. Creating it will involve removing the remains of dirty industry, ground remediation and reprofiling of the Lea river as a more natural water course.

The legacy plan has also affected the design of the Olympic sports venues in the park, many of which will be fully or partially demountable.

It was recognised that not all venues would have long term financial viability after 2012, so the park includes several temporary structures.

But transforming the Olympic Park site is not just a question of replacing the existing post industrial environment and creating a completely 'natural' one.

'Some areas have developed their own beneficial ecosystems, ' explains Buro Happold project manager Ian Austin. These will have to be preserved where possible, with some of the aspects of the original derelict site retained to maintain the environment which first attracted wildlife which now inhabits it.

Construction of bridges connecting the Olympic Park to the surrounding area to provide access during the Games will also underpin the legacy strategy. They will help long term regeneration of the area by improving short distance travel links between Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

Sports facilities have also been worked out with long term use in mind. Three arenas at the Olympic Park site will be demountable so their sites can be turned into parkland after the event - reflecting the fact that many facilities will have no long term use after the Games.

Those that remain will still be used as sports facilities for the newly regenerated area.

And the Olympic stadium will be dramatically scaled down from an 80,000 capacity venue to a 25,000 capacity arena in recognition of the fact that it is unlikely to stage an event comparable to the Olympics after 2012.

Those behind the bid also hope that the huge media centre at the Olympic Park will be retained as film and television studios, to exploit the high quality telecommunications connections which will be put in place for the Games.

Most venues outside the Olympic Park will either use existing facilities, or will be temporary facilities like the beach volleyball arena at Horseguards Parade and the gymnastics area at the Dome.

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