London hopes Olympic Park will have new lease of life after the Games

MARK HENNESSY

Work is under way to save park from becoming a symbol of failed ambition

Construction workers are back on site at London’s Olympic Park in Stratford, 1,000 of them, as they prepare for life after last summer’s weeks of excitement during the Olympics and Paralympics, when hundreds of thousands daily passed through its gates.

Reminiscent of Rosetti’s Christmas carol In the Bleak Mid-Winter, Stratford, open to eastern winds, was a place yesterday where “frosty winds moaned, earth stood hard as iron” and the waters of the river Lea were stilled by heavy ice-packs.

So far, the basketball court, minus its “blister-pack” skin, the polo ground and the hockey arena have been removed, while thousands of seats that flanked the aquatic centre on two sides have been removed, most for a new life at a race track in Miami.

Children’s playground

Large tracts of the ground have been dug up, where foundations are being laid for new cafes, a world-class children’s playground and other projects are under way. “You’ll see more of it once the ice melts,” joked London Legacy Development Corporation’s Peter Tudor.

For now, London is battling to ensure that, unlike previous Olympic sites, the renamed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will have a life afterwards, rather than become another testament to failed ambition.

“There is no chance that this will be like Athens, there is no chance that there will be tumbleweed,” said Dennis Hone, the corporation’s chief executive, “The park will begin to reopen from July this year and will be fully open in Spring 2014.

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