/ Travel & Leisure

The Olympic legacy – a park for the people, not profit?

Olympic park by Brian Harrington Spier on Flickr

What do you think should happen to the Olympic Park once the Games are over? Some of the planned attractions sound great, as long as the prices they’ll charge won’t break the bank.

Personally, I’d like to see the Orbit sculpture adapted to become a giant helter skelter, so you could whizz down to the ground after enjoying the view at the top. And I’m not alone, judging by the suggestions I overheard during a tour of the Park this week.

A colleague of mine who also went up the Orbit this week thought the experience was a little overpriced at £15, partly because there’s little else to do on the top floor once you’ve enjoyed the view.

I’d certainly be happier about paying £15 if there was a fun way back down to earth! So I was happy to hear this week that the people in charge of creating the legacy are hoping to reduce the fee.

Will we still pay Olympic prices?

The park itself will be free to enter, as it should be, given that the Olympics were ultimately supposed to benefit the people of east London. And it appears there will be a large number of free activities for locals, Londoners, visitors and tourists to enjoy.

I was also pleased to hear that charges to use the sporting venues once they’ve reopened in the park – to be known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – will be tied to average charges for similar facilities nearby. For example, it’ll cost £4.35 for an adult to use the Olympic pool, and £1.75 for a child.

Given that our local pool at the other side of London costs £4 for an adult and £2.40 for a child, these prices seem very reasonable for the experience of swimming in the now famous aquatic centre.

But I hope I won’t be paying Olympic prices for the other chargeable attractions and refreshments. I could stomach paying £8.50 for fish and chips this week as it helped to pay towards the magnificent event, but if that sort of price tag continues once the park reopens, I’ll be left feeling fleeced.

A positive plan for the park

Having turned from an Olympic sceptic to an enthusiast over the past few weeks, I’m excited about returning to the remodelled park after the Games. I hope to enjoy the gardens, letting our daughter loose on the massive new children’s playground that’s been planned, and possibly catching a film on a new floating cinema.

There’ll also be a large number of concert venues, from a 6,000 capacity space in the Copper Box (host to events such as handball, goalball and fencing), to the stadium itself.

I don’t envisage any bargains on tickets as the market will set the price level. The best hope for affordable tickets may come from the competition generated by the Olympic Park venues to other nearby venues like the O2 arena.

In my view, the Olympic Park’s legacy of inspiration and goodwill will best be preserved by keeping down fees for the sports venues and events on the site. It should become a people’s park, not a park for profit. What would you like to see at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park post-Games?


May I point out the Olympic Park was mainly the run down Industrial ‘Estate’ that used to be the base for a good number of small businesses that could exist due to the cheap rents and rates – These hard working people were forced to move into new premises and have many went broke due to the higher costs, There was a “Market” the Olympic Committee persuaded some local business to run as an “Olympic Attraction” was a dismal failure with the businesses losing around £25,000.each Finally – the Olympic Village was originally supposed to be “affordable homes” for the local residents – now they are to be sold to the highest bidder for profit..I would like more affordable homes for the residents.

To me it was a disaster as the already limited local parking was taken over by transient workers from the Olympic Site – So I could no longer shop properly for the last four years.- very very inconvenient.

I would like to see the park transformed into cheap Industrial Estates to support local businesses again

What I should have liked to have seen immediately post-Games was for the Olympic Park to have remained open for a short time (perhaps 3-4 weeks) so that the many hundreds/thousands of taxpayers who did not obtain Games or Park tickets in Locog’s notorious lottery (and could not afford the exhorbitant cost of an executive package) would have had the opportunity to visit the Park while it was still intact and in good condition. An admission fee could have been charged to cover costs such as security, although I imagine security will still be necessary anyway, plus an extra charge to visit the Orbit. I know several people who, after receiving no tickets, consoled themselves with the expectation of visiting the Park after the Games, because its immediate closure was not advertised beforehand.

I think it was arrogant of Locog, although consistent with much of its its previous behaviour, to immediately close the Park and begin tearing down the ‘non-permanent’ structures. It is no answer for them to say this is what the contractors need to do, because clearly someone had to arrange for the contractors to do this.

Sure, parts of the Park are scheduled to be reopened in stages 12-18 months from now, but it will not be the same Park and never will be again. Locog has made certain that all those who missed out on experiencing the Olympic Park during the Games stay permanently deprived of the experience. And it seems highly likely that when the true total cost of the Games becomes apparent, i.e. when all the items that were deliberately excluded from the theoretical ‘budget’ are added in, much of the planned re-modelling of the Park will have to be shelved for lack of money.